Anxiety disorders—Recognizing the difference between normal emotion and a more serious health problem

Feeling anxious or stressed out every now and then is a normal emotional reaction to the many stressors we face every day. However, if you feel constant worry, overwhelming stress, and anxiety that interfere with your daily life, you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Panic disorder: Defined by “an abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes”. Physical symptoms may be palpitations, sweating, trembling, nausea, dizziness, a feeling of choking
  • Sudden panic attacks that often strike without warning
  • Social anxiety disorder: Overwhelming worry about everyday social situations
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Excessive, unrealistic worry and stress

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is defined by ‘worry that is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event and accompanied by at least three of the following

  • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Disturbed sleep

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder can vary from person to person and often depend on the type and severity. That’s why it is important to speak to a healthcare professional about your own symptoms.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy (form of counseling)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Relaxation therapy, more commonly known as mindfulness

The appropriate treatment plan depends on the person and the type of disorder. After speaking to a medical provider or mental health professional, he or she can help you find a treatment plan that works for you.