Anxiety, defined as the feeling of worry or unease that a person may get when stressed about something, is common for almost everyone. Maybe you’re in college and you have a big test coming up, so you’re rightfully stressed about acing it. Or possibly you’ve got to decide between getting your car fixed or buying a new dishwashing machine, and you’re having a tough time picking an option.
Unless you’re someone who doesn’t get stressed very easily, anxiety is a reaction to stress that we all can relate to.
However, generalized anxiety disorder is a bit different than our normal reactions to everyday stressors and can sometimes be hard to recognize in yourself. Thankfully, we have the help of a plethora of medical professionals who can help determine what’s causing the anxiety that you’re feeling.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder often shows up as worries that aren’t necessarily attached to any specific situation and persist for a longer amount of time than usual. Other disorders that might be correlated with or cause anxiety in some include Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Experts are not certain what causes anxiety, but it may be due to a combination of factors that include:
- Chemical imbalances
- Environmental stress
- Family history
- Underlying physical health issue
- Medication side effects
- Experiencing trauma
- Drug or alcohol misuse
Many people describe anxiety disorders as not being able to “turn off” their worries. When it seems like other people can push past their worries, a person with an anxiety disorder might have problems getting tasks done, or might be too self-conscious to handle social situations.
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel a number of symptoms, including: feeling tense, tired, feelings of dread, or shortness of breath.
And when you read or hear that it is common, it’s even more than you think. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the U.S., affecting over 40 million adults or 19% of the population.
How is anxiety diagnosed?
If any of the aforementioned symptoms of anxiety seem to fit the way you’ve been feeling, or if your worries, stress, or fears seem difficult to control and interfere with your life, the first thing you should do is talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider. Discuss the specific symptoms that concern you, even if you are not sure about their cause.
An appointment with your provider can help you get the right treatment sooner, preventing additional complications. It is especially important to talk to your provider if you have other mental-health concerns, such as suicidal thoughts or struggles with substance use.
If you don’t have a mental health provider, don’t give up on your mental health. We know that seeing a doctor for mental-health symptoms can feel scary or embarrassing but scientists have found that the sooner you get help, the more likely your symptoms will improve or even go away.
Feel free to check out the list of providers and services that we offer at MindPath if you’d like to learn more about receiving mental healthcare:
We also offer an anonymous online screening to help you learn more about your symptoms and if further evaluation is needed.
After you’ve possibly been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the provider has multiple avenues that they can offer you to help relieve your symptoms.
- Anti-anxiety / antidepressant medications
- Psychotherapy / Counseling
- Other alternatives