We all experience anxiety at some point. It is a natural human emotion that can be brought on by a number of external or internal triggers, but experiencing anxiety does not mean you suffer from an anxiety disorder. If you are more aware of the symptoms of anxiety disorders, you are able to take notice and seek the appropriate professional counseling to treat it. To help you better understand the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, we have created an outline of anxiety disorders: the what, why, and who for Baton Rouge.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, affects seven to eight percent of the American population at any given time, which is close to 25 million people. PTSD is most commonly associated with veterans returning home from war. However, in reality, PTSD can be brought out in just about anyone who suffers through an extraordinary traumatic experience. An accident with a serious injury, a near-death experience, or a sexual violation are a few examples of incidents that can lead to PTSD. While there is no exact equation that spells out whether someone will have PTSD or not, most doctors agree that a mix of a few factors can contribute to it. The severity of the trauma, the age of the person experiencing it, the mental health history of the family, the amount of control (or lack of control) one has over the situation, and the way your brain regulates chemicals all contribute to the likelihood of PTSD. There are both external and internal symptoms of PTSD. Some of the exterior symptoms include avoidance of anything related to the experience, lashing out at others who talk about or in some way remind you of the experience, and recurring memories or dreams (flashbacks) of the experience. Internally, there’s often numbness, hopelessness, a more negative outlook, and even suicidal thoughts. Some levels of these symptoms are expected after a traumatic event, but if symptoms persist for more than a month or two, talking to someone is recommended.
- Social Phobia, which you will often hear referred to as Social Anxiety Disorder, affects just under seven percent of the population or roughly 15 million Americans. Social phobia runs much deeper than a fear of public speaking or a discomfort in certain unfamiliar social situations. Social phobia is an intense fear of interacting with strangers or friends because of an internal perception to how they will react to everything from what you have to say to how you appear. Social phobia is a regular fear of being judged in social situations, constantly worrying that you will embarrass yourself. What’s worse is that fear “snowballs” when the person with social phobia starts thinking that the others around them know that they are already afraid. This leads to an emotional paralysis when around others, and eventually to an avoidance of human contact. Some of the physical symptoms of social phobia are nausea, a racing heart, dizziness, or muscle tension. The moment that social anxiety disorder disrupts your everyday routine is the time to talk to someone about it, as the more symptoms escalate, the harder it is to reach out.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder can be seen in as much as seven percent of American adults, and in up to 25 percent of children worldwide. Separation anxiety is natural in young children. A great example is exhibited in babies who cry when a stranger holds them. While separation anxiety disorder is more frequently associated with children, it is also prevalent in adults. That being said, it is harder to pinpoint and diagnose in adults, and it is sometimes lumped in with general anxiety disorder. Symptoms of separation anxiety disorder in adults include fear or even dread that harm will come to themselves or their loved ones when they are not around, fear of being left alone, or nightmares when they are away from their attachment figure. Quite often, separation anxiety disorder will lead to the person suffering from it to make excuses for why they can’t do things on their own. As with most anxiety disorders, the time to seek treatment is when the symptoms affect your day to day life. This could mean anything from cancelling a business trip to refusing to run errands unless the other person is with you.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or GAD, affects just under four percent of the population with women being twice as likely to exhibit symptoms. GAD can start with the inability to let go of something that happened, and then it escalates into obsessing about it. GAD can cause restlessness, an inability to relax, difficulty concentrating and excessive worrying. These internal symptoms will lead to fatigue, sleeplessness, irritability, and possibly sweating or nausea. As with other forms of anxiety, some levels of these symptoms are normal, but you should talk to someone when the anxiety affects your everyday life.
While the aforementioned anxiety disorders are the most common, there are many more that affect millions of Americans daily. From panic disorder to agoraphobia to OCD, the team at Psychiatry Associates of Baton Rouge is trained to evaluate, diagnose, and treat these and other disorders in adults or children.