When Anxiety Becomes an Anxiety Disorder

While most adults have experienced periods of anxiety, fear, or uncertainty related to a stressful event, a developing problem at work or within a social relationship, these episodes typically last for a short period of time. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that anxiety disorders affect around 40 million adults in the U.S. each year with these episodes lasting for a longer time period of at least 6 months. Living with an anxiety disorder left untreated often becomes worse over time and can incapacitate a person.

Anxiety Disorder Comes in a Variety of Forms

Anxiety disorders bring distress and havoc to one’s life along with constant feelings of worry and fear; the intensity and duration of an episode often leave one crippled, unable to live a normal life. Anxiety disorders can appear as any of the following types:

  • Panic disorder – feelings of terror that can strike suddenly “out of nowhere” without any warning
  • Social anxiety disorder or Social phobia – brings overwhelming worry, nervousness and self-consciousness about everyday social situations; includes fear of being judged or ridiculed by others, or fear of embarrassing oneself
  • Specific phobias – leaves one with an inappropriate intense fear of a specific object or situation, often resulting in avoidance of regular daily situations
  • Generalized anxiety disorder – this type of anxiety disorder leaves one with excessive unrealistic worry, stress and tension without any cause or reason

Common Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder

The symptoms of an anxiety disorder vary depending on the type of the disorder. The most common general symptoms of adult anxiety disorder include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, uneasiness, nervousness
  • Sleeping difficulties, trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep for any length of time
  • Complaints of having cold or sweaty hands or feet
  • Complaints of having shortness of breath (SOB)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feelings of restlessness and poor ability to sit still
  • Complaints of dry mouth
  • Complaints of numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Feelings of chronic nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Feeling dizzy

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Following years of research, the exact cause of anxiety disorders is unknown. In the professional world it is thought that adult anxiety disorders are from a combination of factors which include environmental stress and physiological changes in the brain itself.  Studies of adult anxiety disorders also show that these disorders may be partly inherited from one or both parents, and that experiencing a significant trauma or event may trigger an anxiety disorder in those who have inherited the susceptibility to having one of these disorders.

If anxiety, stress and fear are starting to overtake your life, make the call to Dr. Hege, the area’s premier psychiatrist for adult anxiety disorders. Call for a confidential appointment. Dr. Hege offers convenient evening and weekend appointments to help work around your life schedule.

About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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