It can be hard to determine if someone is suffering from clinical anxiety or not. Being anxious or having feelings of stress and worry occasionally is a normal part of life. Anxiety becomes a problem when it is ongoing and overwhelming.
Many people experience more than just the occasional worry or stress. Sometimes feelings of anxiety can become so crippling that it can affect someone’s everyday life. If this is the case for you, you could possibly have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are nothing to be taken lightly. They are legitimate medical conditions that, left untreated, can cause significant complications later on in life.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
There can be several types of anxiety disorders. The term “anxiety disorder” includes a medical condition called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and panic attacks, and various phobias. Phobias are irrational fears of a specific object or situation.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are both closely-related anxiety disorders. People suffering from severe anxiety disorders can experience these symptoms, as well as major depressive disorder.
When a person is suffering from anxiety, they may also suffer from seemingly unrelated symptoms. Some of these are Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS), diarrhea, bloating, gas, constipation, and cramping.
Anxiety disorder, in its various forms, is the most commonly-diagnosed mental health disorder in the United States. National data indicates that 40 million Americans experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. Approximately 10% of children experience some form of an anxiety disorder. Most of them develop their symptoms before the age of 21.
Although the disorder is very treatable, only 33% of people seek treatment. Experts think this may have to do with the stigma associated with being diagnosed.
The large number of anxiety cases doesn’t just stop in America, however. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that 1 in 13 people around the world suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder. That means that approximately 540 million people are suffering from some form of this condition at the time of this writing.
Anxiety disorders still prove to be the most common mental health issue, even on a global scale. Within the category of anxiety disorders, phobias, major depressive disorder, and social anxiety disorder seem to be the most common.
Studies have also shown that anxiety disorders are more common in developed countries, and among women. Approximately 50% of those suffering from anxiety disorders suffer from depression as well.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Experts are starting to notice a trend of anxiety disorders running in families. They’ve also discovered that, much like diabetes or allergies, anxiety disorders can be caused by our biology. However, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. Biology, as well as life experiences, brain chemistry, and individual personality can all be a contributing factor to anxiety disorders.
Anxiety in Children
As mentioned above, almost 10% of children in America suffer from some form of anxiety disorder before age 21. Studies show that these numbers have been steadily increasing over time.
If children are diagnosed with anxiety, and those symptoms aren’t treated, they can stay with them for the rest of their lives. Signs parents can look for in their children are:
- having repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by pounding heartbeat, feeling dizzy, shakiness, feeling sweaty, and trouble breathing
- being afraid of school and other social settings
- separation anxiety when being away from parents
- being worried about the future and focusing on negative things that can happen
Typically, anxiety presents itself as stress or worry. But anxiety disorders can also make children feel irritable or angry. They can also experience symptoms that seem unrelated such as fatigue, insomnia, stomachaches, and headaches.
One of the common anxiety facts is that major depressive disorder, or depression, is a closely-related form of anxiety disorder. Occasionally feeling sad is a part of any child’s life, but when these feelings linger a child may be diagnosed with depression.
Children who may be suffering from depression may show changes in their eating or sleep patterns. They may not get enjoyment out of the typical childhood activities. Children suffering from depression may also experience feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
In addition to the emotional symptoms of major depressive disorder, children may start to lose focus and engage in self-destructive behaviors. These behaviors, and the lack of energy associated with depression, can have serious long-term effects. Major depressive disorder can cause a child to struggle with everyday life and these struggles can follow them into adulthood.
Lesser Known Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety disorders are widely-known and widely-diagnosed. Most of the common symptoms such as irritability, worry, stress, etc. are easily recognizable. However, there are some lesser known symptoms that most people may not know about.
One of these symptoms is frequent yawning. Having trouble sleeping is one of the common symptoms of anxiety. When dealing with lack of sleep, it may seem like common sense that anxiety sufferers would be yawning more. But studies have shown that even well-rested individuals suffering from anxiety start to yawn more.
Medical professionals think that since anxiety can cause irregular breathing, yawning is our body’s way of regulating our breath during particularly anxious situations.
Another symptom that may seem unrelated, but should be watched for, is frequent urination. The cause of this isn’t completely known, but scientists have some ideas.
Experts think that because anxiety disorders put us into a fight-or-flight response, the increased adrenaline can make us hyper aware of our bodily functions. Another possible cause could be muscle tension. When muscles are tense, they may place more pressure on our organs, including the bladder. This increased pressure on the bladder may cause someone to feel like they need to use the restroom more frequently.
Medical professionals also say stomach issues that would otherwise appear normal should not be overlooked when other symptoms are present. Conditions like cramping and diarrhea can easily be written off as poor diet, dehydration, etc. But if they are present alongside other anxiety symptoms, they may require further examination.
For access to more information and resources regarding anxiety, visit the Just Believe blog. If you’re considering treatment for anxiety, substance abuse, or any other type of disorder contact Just Believe today.