How does an anxiety disorder affect me?
With news reports and headlines warning us of terrorism, global warming, economic challenges, and devastating weather events, these days we are all a bit more anxious. Anxiety can be a good emotion that prompts us to take extra precautions, but when it interferes with our daily lives, it not only affects our mental health but undermines our physical health as well.
What is an anxiety disorder and how does it affect me?
Anxiety disorders are different from regular anxiety, and are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting nearly 1 in 5 adults. They can involve periods of excessive worrying and may include phobias, or physical symptoms such as headaches, stomach aches, and muscle aches, or sudden bursts of intense physical anxiety. Like other mental illnesses, anxiety disorders can stem from a combination of things such as changes in the brain, environmental stress, or genes.
Anxiety disorders include several different conditions:
- Panic Disorder – Episodes or unprovoked feelings of terror or impending doom. During a panic attack, you may also sweat, have chest pains, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, or weakness.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) – Feeling of overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. A sense of being judged or ridiculed by others.
- Specific Phobias – An intense fear of an object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear may cause you to avoid ordinary situations.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Excessive, unrealistic worry, and tension with little or no reasons.
As the body’s sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones there are physical reactions that can range from mild to serious:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dry mouth
- Fast heartbeat
- Inability to concentrate
- Muscle aches
- Muscle tension
- Nervous energy
- Rapid breathing
- Shortness of breath
- Trembling and twitching
- Suppression of the immune system
- Digestive disorders
- Muscle tension
- Short-term memory loss
- Premature coronary artery disease
- Heart attack
How is an anxiety disorder treated?
An untreated anxiety disorder can lead to depression and even suicidal thoughts. Specially designed interview and assessment tools are used to evaluate for anxiety disorders, and diagnosis is based on the intensity and duration of symptoms and the observation of the individual’s attitude and behavior. Since anxiety disorders have different symptoms, the exact treatment depends on the type of disorder, but the most common treatment is psychotherapy. At Pasadena Villa, we incorporate social integration into treatment, which allows our therapist to observe and interact with residents as they experience recreational, social, and life strategy activities within the community. Social integration ensures customized treatment plans are as accurate and effective as possible and helps residents assimilate back into everyday life and reach the highest level of functioning possible.
Pasadena Villa is here to help if you or a loved one has questions regarding anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions. Call us at 407-574-5190 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.