We all worry from time to time. Sometimes we worry A LOT. Worry usually responds to common sense solutions like trying to think of something else, getting busy, binge watching TV, calling a friend for reassurance, getting a good night’s sleep, or eating chocolate.
Anxiety disorders are different because that anxious feeling won’t respond in normal ways. For example, someone might be anxious that a mole is really melanoma. Common sense would say to Google it and then maybe see a dermatologist. When common sense strategies never seem to be enough, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Some people are more highly attuned to the environment or other people, or their bodies. For them, anxiety can take many forms. The example above may be Health or Illness Anxiety. Panic Attacks are when people experience a cascade of physical symptomes (rapid breathing, heart palpitations, tingling in extermities, etc.), terrified thoughts (OMG I am having a heart attack or This is so embarassing, everyone is looking at me, or I can’t go out because this might happen again, etc), and catastrophic feelings. Surprisingly, panic attacks happen to 1 in 4 people. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is another common complaint where the person seems to have a never ending laundry list of things to fret and ruminate about. Social Anxiety takes many forms, from fear of public speaking to crippling shyness. Phobias are about being so fearful of one thing that it is avoided at all costs, like fear of flying of driving over a bridge.
However it manifests itself, anxiety is best treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There are some medications that might help some but the anxiety is still there. CBT teaches you the skills you need to master or tame the disorder, often in a matter of weeks or months.
Stopping the Noise in Your Head. (2016) by Reid Wilson
The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook (2015) by Edmund Bourne PhD
Article on current Anxiety Research
A useful website: ***CAUTION: the quality and accuracy of information on the web waries widely.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a very useful website with up to date and accurate information. https://www.adaa.org/