Anxiety: Is it as bad as it
in the form of anxiety disorders is the most common mental health problems in
the United States. Researchers have found that in any given year as many as 19%
of the adult population experience anxiety to the degree of becoming an anxiety
disorder. There are six anxiety disorders identified by DSM-IV (which is used
by mental health clinicians to diagnose mental problems). These problems with
anxiety are believed to cost our society at least $42 billion each year in
health care expenses, lost wages and lost productivity.
What is it?
Anxiety does not always have
to be experienced in a dramatic form in order to be a problem. You may be able
to think of a time when your breathing quickened, your muscles tensed and your
heart pounded with a sudden sense of dread or fear. Anxiety is what you felt
when your boss suggested your job performance needed to improve or when a person
you were in love with went out with someone else. Any time you face what seems
to be a threat to your well-being and you react with a state of immediate alarm
or fear, you are experiencing anxiety. Anxiety may be experienced as a vague
feeling of tension as if you expect something unpleasant to happen, or may be
related to more specific circumstances. The vague sense of being in danger
usually referred to as anxiety, involves an increase in breathing, muscular
tension and perspiration.
may or may not be adaptive:
experiences of fear and anxiety may be unpleasant they may have some adaptive
qualities in that they may prepare us for "fight or flight" when danger is on
the horizon. They may cause us to drive more carefully in a snowstorm, keep up
with our reading assignments at school or be more diligent at our jobs.
Unfortunately, some people experience fear and anxiety in a way that seems
disabling, making it difficult for them to lead a normal life. If your
discomfort is too frequent, too intense, lasts for too long, or is triggered too
easily, you may be experiencing either an anxiety disorder or some other type of
stress related disorder.
the anxiety disorders?
Anxiety in the form of
anxiety disorders come in many shapes and sizes. Generalized anxiety disorder is
experienced as a very general, but persistent feeling of anxiety. Panic
disorder is when you have recurrent attacks of an intense feeling of fear or
terror. Individuals with phobias experience persistent and irrational fear of
specific objects, situations or activities. People who have
obsessive-compulsive disorder usually feel overrun by recurrent thoughts that
cause them to feel anxious and feel compelled to perform repetitive actions to
reduce their anxiety. People experiencing acute stress disorder and
post-traumatic stress disorder are tormented by fears and related symptoms well
after the traumatic experience have ended. Research has continued to find that
individual's who experience one anxiety disorder frequently suffer from a second
one as well. Other pages of this web site will review each specific anxiety
disorder as well as its related treatment.
Information provided by
Ronald J. Comerís Abnormal Psychology
Information and webpage by
Licensed Psychologist Ph.D. Candidate
(Health and Geriatric Psychologist)
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