Everyone worries about things sometimes—maybe you’re thinking a lot about that big project at work, the health of a family member or your child’s performance at school.
Concern about things that are happening in your life is normal, sometimes even necessary. But according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, when worry becomes extreme, persistent or uncontrollable and interferes with your daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.
There are risk factors for anxiety. You may be at increased risk if you:
- Have experienced trauma
- Have ongoing conflict in your life
- Live with a chronic health condition
- Abuse drugs or alcohol
- Have a family history of anxiety
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults, and can be mild, moderate or severe.
But they are treatable.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
Often with anxiety, physical symptoms can occur. These can include:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Having headaches, stomach aches or muscle aches
- Feeling light-headed
- Having difficulty falling or staying at sleep
- Feeling sudden rushes of unexplainable fear
- Often feeling on edge
“The important thing is to seek out treatment for your anxiety,” said Petronella Mbu, M.D., from Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Carilion Clinic. “Talk to your doctor and be honest about your symptoms—that way, they can make sure you get the most appropriate treatment.”
Your doctor may want to conduct exams or tests to make sure those symptoms aren’t related to something other than anxiety.
Some common treatments for anxiety include medication and psychotherapy, and often a combination of both.
“Having an anxiety disorder shouldn’t be a scary diagnosis,” said Dr. Mbu. “Treatments can be very effective and greatly improve your quality of life.”
For more information about anxiety and anxiety disorders, visit the following websites: