Anxiety: The Basics
Written by Corry Hawkins, Clinical Director for KPS
Anxiety is a part of daily life. Life changes and stressful situations can make anyone feel anxious. Normal anxieties inspire us to prepare and improve ourselves and our circumstances. However, sometimes anxiety becomes overwhelming and debilitating. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States. Feelings of intense fear and distress can disrupt a person’s life, relationships, physical health, and overall functioning. Anxiety can lead to other mental concerns, such as depression or substance use, especially if left untreated.
Children, teenagers, and adults can develop anxiety. While anxiety disorders vary in presentation, they are typically caused by a combination of stressful circumstances and genetic factors.
Anxiety disorders are experienced differently depending on the individual and their circumstances. In general, most anxiety disorders consist of emotional and physical symptoms, operating in a feedback loop that keeps the anxiety coming back.
Feelings of fear or dread
Feeling tense or jumpy
Feeling irritable or restless
Fear of danger and anticipating the worst
Increased heart rate
Feeling out of breath
Tremors or twitches
Headaches and/or digestive problems
Insomnia and/or fatigue
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety can take many forms, and the emotional and physical symptoms experienced can vary depending on the person and what triggers their feelings of fear and dread. Below is a list of diagnosable anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Social Anxiety Disorder
Separation Anxiety Disorder (diagnosed in children)
Each type of anxiety disorder is different and has its own course of treatment. Symptoms of anxiety can also resemble medical disorders, so it is important to start with making an appointment with your physician. Typically, treatment for anxiety includes a combination of medication and mental health therapy. Relaxation techniques and stress reduction are crucial components of treating anxiety. If you feel treatment is not effective, talk with your physician and mental health provider.
Remember, anxiety is common, but that does not mean you have to live with worry and dread every day. If you are unsure if your anxiety requires treatment, make an appointment with a physician or mental health professional and find out. The worst thing you can do is not ask!
For more information about anxiety, see this Anxiety Disorders Fact Sheet produced by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.