In the world we live in, many people experience anxiety at some point in their lives. Most people have to perform in different areas of their lives, so the pressure is so great that they crack under it.
It’s not surprising that anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the United States. Luckily, anxiety is more and more understood and, even though, it is not curable, effective treatments are now available.
The history of anxiety
As surprising as it is, anxiety disorders date back much further than we think. Naturally, people have always suffered from anxiety, but it was actually scientifically proven by a French psychiatrist named Bénédict Augustin Morel in 1866. He suggested that anxiety was due to a dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system.
In the early 1900s, Sigmund Freud declared that anxiety was purely psychological, but he reviewed his position and introduced the theory of “signal anxiety“. He also used the term “anxiety neurosis” for the first time to describe mental illness.
Types of anxiety disorders
Since then, anxiety has been divided into different types. There are actually six categories of anxiety disorders. Here they are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder or social phobia
- Specific phobias
Some specialists have also found a 7th category which is Agoraphobia. It is often included in the “panic disorder” category, but it is more and more recognized as a new and separate type of anxiety disorder.
What causes anxiety disorders?
Even though the anxiety disorders exact cause is unknown, scientists have found that three factors stand out. Since anxiety is a complex condition, the cause can be one or a combination of several factors. They can be variations in the brain, in the genetics or environmental.
But contrary to popular belief, anxiety isn’t caused by personal weakness, a flawed character or poor education. We have to see beyond the prejudices and realized that mental illness is real and start believing those who are affected by it.
Psychological and physical symptoms
There are lots of symptoms related to anxiety. Not all of the persons affected by this will necessary experience the same symptoms. The reason is there are different types of anxiety disorders. But there is one symptom that surfaces: tenacious or acute fear in given situations where others won’t feel any signs of fear. Here are some of these symptoms:
- Stressed out
- and more
- Disturbed sleep
- Chest tightness
- and more
These symptoms are only a few of the signs that a person affected by anxiety can experience. The symptoms may vary depending on the type of anxiety disorders. People can experience physical, psychological symptoms or both.
How are anxiety disorders diagnosed?
There are no blood tests that can diagnose anxiety disorders, but there are other ways of finding out if a person is affected. However, anxiety disorders can be provoked by secondary causes that could be diagnosed by specific tests.
To begin with, the physician will perform a physical exam as well as a complete blood work. If all other conditions are ruled out, the doctor will ask a list of questions about personal and family psychiatric history. Then, he will refer the person to a psychologist or a psychiatrist.
But there are treatments available
Fortunately, there are treatments that can be helpful to the anxious person. Medication and psychotherapy are the two most common treatments for anxiety disorders. They can be used either alone or together depending on the need.
Complementary or alternative treatments are also other options to consider. Usually, people respond very well to those treatments when used in combination with medication and/or therapy.
An infographic about anxiety disorders
There is a lot of information about anxiety disorders. I found a complete infographic, created by the team at Global Medical Education, where you will find more facts and statistics about this. With this infographic below, you will learn everything there is to know about anxiety disorders.
Click on infographic to enlarge
|Source: Global Medical Education|
Even though anxiety disorders can completely invade your life, there’s hope for those who suffer in silence. Like we have seen in the previous paragraphs, many treatments are now available to help you live your life to the fullest. A century ago, people living with anxiety disorders didn’t have a great deal of chance to get help. They were condemned to be branded as insane or possessed.
Today, we have the chance to learn more and more about these disorders. Taboos are slowly lifting, and we can talk about this more freely. If you think you suffer from anxiety and want help, please don’t hesitate and contact your physician.