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Types of Anxiety

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

It’s normal to feel anxious sometimes. It can even be a good thing in small amounts, if it motivates a person to study harder, drive more carefully, or be more thorough in completing their work. When anxiety reaches a problematic level, Highland Hospital Behavioral Health can help. Our programs, based in Charleston, West Virginia, treat people of all ages who are struggling with anxiety disorders.

What is Anxiety? 

Anxiety is a way our brain and body help us recognize that something is important and worth paying attention to. It is meant to be a temporary feeling that helps us focus, so we can stay safe from danger. In people with an anxiety disorder, however, anxiety becomes harmful. 

When Anxiety Becomes a Disorder

Anxiety is a serious problem for many people. Around 19 percent of adults and 7 percent of children have one or more anxiety disorders, with onset frequently occurring before the age of 21. When a person has an anxiety disorder, the anxiety doesn’t go away after they get through a dangerous or stressful situation. Instead, they become overwhelmed by worry, and their symptoms begin to interfere with their daily life, making it more difficult for them to work, attend school, and maintain relationships. Anxiety disorders can increase the risk of suicide.

Types of Anxiety Disorder 

Many people have heard of anxiety disorders, but they may not realize that several conditions fall into this category. At Highland Hospital, we primarily treat five types of anxiety disorders:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – people with this diagnosis worry a lot, mostly about ordinary things, but the amount of worry they experience is out of proportion to the situation. They may manifest physical symptoms like headaches, stomach pain, and nausea as a result of being stressed.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – this is a pattern of unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that often take the form of rituals. People with this diagnosis often have themes to their obsessions, compulsions, and rituals that may center on germs, fear of the unknown, need for order, loss of control, or religious subjects.
  • Panic Disorder – panic attacks are the identifying characteristic of this form of anxiety. People will experience sudden, intense feelings of terror and fear that may feel like a heart attack. The person may feel like they are going to die, as they experience shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, a sense of impending doom, and fluttering or pounding in their heart. People with this condition often become focused on how to avoid panic attacks, limiting their social interaction and quality of life.  
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – this diagnosis occurs after someone has experienced or witnessed a terrifying, dangerous, or painful event that exceeds their ability to cope. Examples of such events may include warfare, abuse, natural disasters, or the sudden death of someone important to them. 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) – this condition makes it difficult for people to interact in social settings because they fear making mistakes, being judged, or being viewed negatively by others. The person may start to avoid social situations due to their fear.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

There are a variety of ways that a person can develop an anxiety disorder, and people often experience more than one of the known causes of this condition:

  • Genetics – anxiety disorders may be handed down through families.
  • Brain differences – research suggests that some brains are built and operate differently than others, making them more inclined toward excessive anxiety.
  • Stress and trauma – going through difficult things can create anxiety.
  • Substance use – while people may attempt to use alcohol or other drugs to manage their anxious feelings (sometimes called self-medication), it is more likely that drug use will make their symptoms worse.
  • Medical conditions – some health issues, particularly ones impacting the heart, lung, or thyroid, as well as cancer, can cause anxiety or make it worse. Feelings of anxiety may also be the first sign of a serious medical condition.
  • Side effects from medication – some medications can produce anxious feelings, either while the person is taking them or as part of withdrawal when they stop.

Co-occurring Conditions

It is not uncommon for people with anxiety disorders to also experience other mental health conditions at the same time. Some of the most common mental health diagnoses that are seen in people with anxiety include:

  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depression
  • Substance use disorders (SUD)
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleep disturbances

At Highland Hospital Behavioral Health, we believe in taking a holistic approach to treating mental health disorders like anxiety. Through a combination of therapy, medications, and lifestyle changes, we help people with anxiety to recover and build the lives they want to live.

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