All About Anxiety Disorders

Written by Danielle Okotcha

What Are Anxiety Disorders?:

Anxiety Disorders are primarily characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety that disrupts daily activities. Those suffering from an anxiety disorder generally feeling persistently and uncontrollably tense with no apparent cause, as well as feelings of worry, anxiety, and/or fear strong enough to interfere with one’s daily activities. A few main anxiety disorders are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders:

There are several interpretations as to what the cause of Anxiety Disorders are. Those that take to the environmental perspective, claim past experiences can kick start a depressive state. Others that focus more on genetics talk about the heritability aspect. The heritability of major depression is about 35 to 40% which could explain why some have people can be more likely than others to have anxiety disorders. Another potential cause is the brain. Those with less activity in the brain (especially in frontal lobe) will be at an increased risk. If Norepinephrine and Serotonin are scarce (since these neurotransmitters control arousal and boost mood) one would be more likely to have an anxiety disorder. Additionally, as claimed from those with more of a social-cognitive perspective, learned helplessness can lead to depression. Let’s dive further into some specific anxiety disorders.

Phobia-related Disorders:

Phobias are characterized as irrational and intense fears of a specific object or situation. Phobias are prevalent even in knowingly safe situations. Phobias consist of three main categories: specific phobias, social phobia, and agoraphobia. Social Phobia is most commonly known by its most well-known name: Social Anxiety. Those with social anxiety have an extreme fear of social situations due to their perceived negative opinions from others about them. This leads to the avoidance of social situations most of the time. Specific phobias are usually about fears of certain objects or specific situations. Some examples are fears of heights, blood, and specific animals. Agoraphobia is generally the fear of open or crowded spaces, the fear of being in spaces with limited escapability, and/or the fear leaving one’s home.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

Common symptoms of this anxiety disorder are unwanted repetitive thoughts or obsessions, and/or actions (compulsions).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

This anxiety disorder is usually characterized by an individual being continually tense, apprehensive, and constantly being in a state of autonomic nervous system arousal. This anxiety affects many things such as physical and mental health, work life, social interactions, and everyday interactions. Those suffering from this generally are easily irritable feelings of worry, muscle tension, are easily fatigued, and have various sleep issues.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

This anxiety disorder usually occurs after a deeply troubling life event. It is marked by restlessness, irritability, sleep impairment, loss of concentration, flashbacks and/or social withdrawal for an extended period of time.

Therapies and Treatments:

Anxiety Disorders can be treated a variety of ways. A popular option for treatment is Psychotherapy which mostly consists of the doctor talking with the patient. Another source of treatment is by prescribed medications including anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, beta blockers, and other medications.

How You Can Get Help:

If you believe you are experiencing any of these symptoms please tell a trusted friend or family member and get help from a verified health professional. Also consider joining a support group as well. You could benefit from hearing about the experiences of others with the same struggles. Always remember, it’s never too late to get help.