Anxiety disorders are among the most commonly diagnosed psychiatric disorders. When first experiencing anxiety symptoms, you may feel high energy in the form of worry and nervousness. You also may perceive circumstances or objects as being a larger threat to you than they are. You might notice your anxiety but not know if it’s clinically significant.
Symptoms differ from person to person and the criteria for diagnosis also vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder. Understanding what type of anxiety you have could inform your treatment options.
Generalized Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety can be a normal reaction to stressful life events or situations. Everyone worries sometimes. Like most mental health disorders, anxiety disorders are defined by related symptoms that interfere with how you function in your everyday life. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most commonly diagnosed anxiety order. It is characterized by the experience of frequent anxiety, occurring for months or even years.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the American Psychiatric Association‘s manual for assessing and diagnosing mental health disorders, people with GAD must experience excessive worry and apprehension about several activities more frequently than not for at least six months. If you have GAD, you may feel unable to control your anxiety. You’ll also cope with three or more of these symptoms:
- Restlessness or feeling on edge
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Poor quality sleep
Though anxiety may present in many other ways, these are the agreed-upon criteria for a GAD diagnosis. If you’re coping with other symptoms in addition to this, you may have co-occurring disorders which exacerbate each other.
Other Anxiety Disorders
Some symptoms of anxiety disorders overlap. Other types of anxiety disorders require different criteria for diagnosis though. You might find that your symptoms could be better characterized by one of the following disorders.
You may experience panic attacks without having a panic disorder. A panic attack is characterized by sudden intense anxiety or fear when no clear threat is present. During a panic attack, you may feel like you don’t have control over the situation. The physical symptoms also mimic the characteristics of a heart attack. As such, you may believe you are in danger of dying.
If you have panic disorder, then these attacks happen frequently and unexpectedly. You might also experience constant excessive worry about the occurrence of panic attacks and avoid people, places, and situations that you believe might trigger one. The fear can lead to you avoiding these circumstances.
Social Anxiety Disorder
If you experience intense anxiety around social situations and feel like you are constantly being watched or judged by others, your symptoms might align with social anxiety. You might avoid social situations to prevent the uncontrollable fear caused by them. Social anxiety disorder can interfere with your ability to create and maintain relationships. You may find yourself isolating from even your most trusted loved ones.
There are many different types of phobic-related disorders that are associated with different symptoms. Generally speaking, phobia-related disorders describe intense anxiety and fear related to a specific object or situation. Some common types of phobia-related disorders include:
- Specific Phobia Disorder: anxiety surrounding a specific type of fear or situation
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: anxiety surrounding being apart from people you are attached to. This person could be a close friend, family member, or mentor.
- Agoraphobia: anxiety surrounding open or enclosed spaces, public transportation, or being in a crowd or alone outside of the home.
Sometimes this fear is based in reality but the actual threat of an object or situation is disproportionate to the anxiety you experience. The symptoms must severely impair your ability to function to meet the level of a phobia.
Correlation With Substance Use
In general, any type of mental health disorder, including anxiety disorders, puts you at risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD). More than 1 in 4 people struggling with a serious mental health disorder also have SUD. This correlation may be caused by an effort to numb symptoms of a mental health disorder or the worsening of mental health symptoms by used substances.
Mental health and substance use disorder orders should be treated simultaneously by the same mental health professional because they do not affect you in isolation from one another. This is often referred to as a dual diagnosis.
If you think your anxiety symptoms align with one or more anxiety disorders, seek help from a mental health professional. Some mental health professionals, like a psychiatrist, can diagnose and prescribe medications to mitigate anxiety symptoms. You should never take a medication without consulting a doctor or mental health professional first.
In addition to medication, you may receive counseling. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common type of therapy for treating anxiety disorders. Finding a treatment plan that works for you will involve trial and error. There might be other types of therapies that you respond to better than CBT. Modalities such as mindfulness, yoga, or meditation may help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety disorders can greatly impact your social, career, and private life. With the right treatment plan, symptoms can be mitigated, making you feel more in control of your emotions. Restoration Recovery Center has experience treating various mental health disorders including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and mood disorders. We understand that everyone’s mental health symptoms impact them differently, which is why we pride ourselves on being flexible and shaping our program to each individual’s needs. Our professionals can work closely with you to heal your mental health and substance use symptoms. We can help you achieve long-term sobriety. Working together we can create a treatment plan that will help you have a successful recovery and restore your sense of purpose along the way. If you or someone you know is struggling with comorbid mental illnesses and substance abuse please call Restoration Recovery Center at (888) 290-0925.