A job interview, a first date, or a difficult conversation with a loved one are all things that can cause uncomfortable emotions. Uneasiness, worry, and fear are common reactions to stressful circumstances. Another word for this feeling is anxiety. In some people, anxiety can occur as a harmful and exhausting disorder.

What Is Anxiety?

In general, the term anxiety refers to the tense and uncomfortable feeling caused by stress or uncertainty. Everyone experiences this feeling every once in a while. Usually, anxiety can be traced to a source. For example, you may feel anxious about your financial situation after losing a job. This is completely normal, and the feeling will usually go away when the source issue is resolved.

However, for some people, anxious feelings can manifest so often that it impacts their daily life. Anxiety can feel difficult to control, disproportionate to the cause, or like it doesn’t have a clear or rational cause. If you experience this, you may have an anxiety disorder. This is a group of mental health disorders that are characterized by frequent and hard-to-control anxious feelings. 

Here are some anxiety disorders and how they manifest:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive worrying about everyday activities and events. For example, someone with GAD may feel anxious about eating breakfast because of the possibility of choking. They often take precautions to make these activities more “safe,” such as eating very slowly. This is different from a phobia, which focuses on one particular object or situation. With GAD, the worry shifts from circumstance to circumstance. 
  • Panic disorder: This disorder involves episodes of extreme spikes in anxiety or panic called panic attacks. During the episode, you may feel in danger and out of control. Hyperventilation, racing heart, and shaking are common during panic attacks. The episodes usually last from five to 30 minutes, though they can be longer. There may be an identifiable cause, or they may be completely random. Having panic attacks where there is no cause or the reaction is disproportionate to the cause is a sign that you may have panic disorder. 
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder: This disorder happens when anxiety symptoms or panic attacks occur as a result of substance use, abuse, or withdrawal. Sometimes, prescribed medications can have a side effect of anxiety. If this is the case, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms and how they can be resolved. However, short- and long-term misuse of addictive substances can also lead to substance-induced anxiety disorder because of the chemical effects of substances on the brain. Withdrawals from addictive substances can also cause severe anxiety. If you have issues with substance use, Athens Area Commencement Center can help you transition to a season of healing. 

These are just a few examples of anxiety disorders, but there are many more. If you have any symptoms of an anxiety disorder, reach out to us for evaluation by our experienced team. 

Challenges and Effects

Anxiety disorders can have a detrimental effect on your life. They can cause problems at work and in your social life. Often, people with anxiety issues will begin to avoid situations that may induce anxiety, cutting themselves off from social opportunities. This can lead to isolation and the worsening of symptoms. 

Anxiety disorders often go hand-in-hand with substance use disorder (SUD). Many people turn to substances to cope with the stressful feelings they’re experiencing, which then leads to addiction. Conversely, substance use can alter brain chemistry and lead to anxiety symptoms. It’s often a cyclical and self-feeding situation. In cases like this, getting professional help is crucial. Mental health professionals and addiction specialists can help you identify the underlying cause of your issues and treat the disorder at its source. 

Anxiety disorder symptoms have a wide range, but some common signs include:

  • A feeling of impending doom
  • Racing heart 
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Nausea/vomiting  
  • Shortness of breath/hyperventilation 
  • Feeling out of control 
  • Unexplained headaches, stomachache, body aches
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Feeling tense, nervous, or restless
  • Avoiding situations that may cause anxiety

Experiencing these symptoms frequently can be physically and mentally exhausting. Because of this, people with anxiety disorders often feel tired and may spend a lot of time resting. This can also impact their life, causing poor performance at work or school. 

Getting Treatment

Living with an anxiety disorder can be difficult, but effective treatment is available. The first step is reaching out for help and getting evaluated by a mental health professional. An accurate diagnosis is vital to make sure you get the help you need. 

At Athens Area Commencement Center, we believe that every mental health issue is unique and requires a specialized treatment plan. We offer a variety of therapeutic interventions to treat anxiety disorders. Often, a combination of holistic and evidence-based approaches can form a comprehensive care plan. For example, mindfulness practices, yoga, and meditation can be great tools for managing anxiety symptoms when they emerge. Using these holistic methods in tandem with evidence-based therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can put you on the path to healing and sustained wellness. 

Education is also a valuable cornerstone in recovery from mental health disorders. Understanding the root of the disorder, its effects on the body and mind, and the science behind treatment can be an empowering experience. We promote comprehensive education in all of our treatment programs, and we believe it plays an essential role in the healing process. 

If you’re struggling with symptoms of an anxiety disorder, SUD, or other mental health disorder, it’s important that you get professional help. Call Athens Area Commencement Center at (706) 546-7355  to enter your season of healing.