Causes & Effects of Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety

Learn about Anxiety Treatment

An anxiety disorder can cause you to become overtaken by chronic fear, apprehension, and panic. Everyone will experience the feeling of anxiety at some point, however others can experience more pervasive symptoms of anxiety that can affect all areas of their lives.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, you might steer clear from places or situations that you might otherwise find joy in because your anxiety prevents you from doing so. As a result, you can miss out on many positive life experiences and suffer numerous consequences.

Anxiety is not just one, over-arching sensation that can cause you to feel panicked all the time. Instead, anxiety can take many different shapes and forms. There are a handful of different kinds of anxiety disorders that produce different symptoms. These anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Panic disorder

The presence of any one of these kinds of anxiety disorder can impact your life, as well as the lives of your loved ones. Unfortunately, those who struggle with the symptoms of anxiety are also more likely to look for methods of soothing these symptoms, such as substance abuse. Thankfully, treatment for anxiety is available.


Statistics about Anxiety

The Anxiety and Depression Association of American (ADAA) reports that 40 million American adults (the equivalent to 18% of the U.S. population) experience one or more anxiety disorders. ADAA also reports the following statistics:

  • Only 36.9% of Americans who have anxiety disorders seek treatment
  • Individuals with an anxiety disorder are three to five more times more likely to visit the doctor, and six times more likely to be hospitalized than those without an anxiety disorder
  • Women are twice as likely to be impacted by generalized anxiety disorder than men

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Anxiety

Several different genetic and environmental aspects can serve as risk factors for the onset of symptoms of an anxiety disorder. Some of these risk factors include, however are not limited to, the following:

  • Having immediate family members (e.g. parents or siblings) with anxiety disorders
  • Community violence
  • Death of a loved one
  • Problems in the workplace
  • Financial issues
  • Stressful events including a feared object or situation
  • Physical or emotional sensitivity to anxiety
  • History of abuse
  • Overprotective parents
  • Neurotic personality
  • Inhibited behavior

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

Each anxiety disorder comes with its own set of specific symptoms, however there are several common signs and symptoms of the presence of all anxiety disorders. If you are experiencing any or all of these signs and symptoms, you might be experiencing an anxiety disorder:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Fear or refusal to separate from loved ones or attachment figures
  • Avoiding other people or social situations
  • Inability to complete tasks
  • Ignoring responsibilities or avoiding difficult goals
  • Restlessness or inability to sit still
  • Refusal to leave home or other “safe” places
  • Avoiding tasks such as driving, or activities that involve feared areas

Physical symptoms:

  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Stomachaches or headaches
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Inability to control apprehension and worry
  • Depersonalization
  • Blank thoughts or mental blankness
  • Nightmares or night terrors
  • Derealization
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts of running away
  • Paranoia

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Hopeless or helpless feelings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Fear, despite logical knowledge of safety
  • Inability to control apprehension and worry

Lasting Effects

Effects of Anxiety

When professional treatment is not obtained, anxiety disorders can persist and cause a number of issues within your life, including the following:

  • Decrease in job or school performance
  • Alcohol or substance abuse or addiction (when the individual uses substances to cope)
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Family conflicts
  • Additional mental health diagnoses
  • Relationship conflicts or relationship loss
  • Decline in physical health
  • Self-harm
  • Social isolation

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Substance Abuse or Mental Health Issues

If you have an anxiety disorder, you are at greater risk for also struggling with the symptoms of other mental health conditions. Having more than one mental health condition occurring simultaneously is known as having a co-occurring disorder. Some common co-occurring disorders that happen in sync with anxiety disorders can include the following:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Personality disorders
  • Impulse-control disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Personality disorders
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