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The Transition House, Inc.

What are the most common anxiety disorders?

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Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older, or 18% of the population. Worrying and constant fear is overwhelming for those with anxiety disorders, but with treatment, like counseling, these conditions can be managed and you can lead a happy and fulfilling life. Let’s take a deeper look into a few of the most common anxiety disorders and how they can affect you or those you love.

General anxiety disorder (GAD)

According to researchers, this is the most common anxiety disorder among older adults. There are more than 3 million cases per year in the US, though anxiety disorders in an older age range are frequently associated with traumatic events such as a fall or acute illness. GAD typically is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worrying and tension. As with most anxiety disorders, the root of the anxiety is normally unknown to the individual, which can cause even more stress and anxiety.  Symptoms include:

  • Easily fatigued
  • Feelings of being "on edge"
  • Irritability
  • Loss of sleep

Phobias

Phobic disorders occur when an individual experiences an intense, irrational, and persistent fear of something specific. Unlike GAD discussed above, the individual who is suffering from a phobia knows the source of his/her fear very well. More often than not, individuals with phobias know that their fears are irrational but aren’t able to do anything about it. There are different types of phobias, but most of them are characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Uncontrollable dread and fear when faced with your fear
  • Extreme avoidance of your fear and the inability to function when you come close to it
  • Physical aspects including sweating, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears, or obsessions, that lead you to engage in repetitive behaviors or compulsions. With this disorder, it is possible to only have an obsession or a compulsion. With OCD, you may or may not realize that your obsessions aren’t reasonable, and you may try to ignore them or stop them, but that only increases your distress and anxiety. Ultimately, you feel driven to perform compulsive acts in an effort to ease your stressful feelings. The symptoms can include:

  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Constant checking
  • Fear of contamination
  • Arranging items to face a certain direction

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is the result of real chemical changes in the brain that occur after someone has witnessed a tragic event. The only way for someone with the condition to get better is to obtain treatment. Though it may seem like PTSD is only associated with veterans, it is a condition that can result from any traumatic event, including sexual assault or other physical violence. While PTSD is often diagnosed shortly after someone is the victim of a traumatic event, sometimes it can take months or even years for an individual to express difficulties related to the event. While some people who are exposed to traumatic events are able to cope with the incident, not all are able to do so. PTSD is typically characterized by:

  • Flashbacks, nightmares, and distressing recollections of the traumatic event
  • Avoiding people, places, and situations that remind you of the trauma and emotional numbness
  • Irritability, difficulty sleeping, and lack of concentration

If you’re looking for counseling for anxiety in Orlando, find out more about our TTHI Counseling Center here.


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