Worry and anxiety can be a normal part of life – responses to the stressors of everyday life. Anxiety in moderation can help people cope with these demands or serve as a motivator for dealing with situations. Excessive anxiety becomes a hindrance to daily activities. Anxiety can lead people to avoid situations because of feeling distressed or panicky. Even the fear of possibly feeling anxious is enough to keep people away. If anxiety weren’t present, they might otherwise enjoy or willingly seek out these activities. Anxiety is also exhausting, like trying to stand on your tippy-toes indefinitely. Despite what the fears demand, it simply isn’t possible to be perpetually vigilant. Trying to quiet the worries is an endless battle. This is when anxiety becomes a disorder. Anxiety Disorders include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Social Anxiety (Social Phobia)
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Over 8% of the adolescent population and 18% of the adult population in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 40 million adult Americans are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year. Though it varies from disorder to disorder, women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime. Symptoms of anxiety often begin in childhood. The average age of onset is 11-years-old though teens with anxiety disorders report that they start experiencing symptoms as early as age 6.

Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Feelings of dread
  • Being on edge
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulties sleeping
  • Difficulties focusing or concentrating
  • Feeling trapped or wanting to escape
  • Racing heart
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing or catching your breath
  • Stomachache or feeling nauseated

Unfortunately, many sufferers do not receive mental health care for their anxieties. Only about one-third of adults receive treatment. Children and teens are even less likely to receive mental health services (18%). However, there are effective, empirically supported treatments available for anxiety disorders, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). Adjunctive interventions may include medication, relaxation, exercise, and meditation. While no one is ever worry-free, with the appropriate treatment it is possible to manage ones anxieties and reclaim a less worrisome life.