Written by: Angela Derrick, Ph.D. & Susan McClanahan, Ph.D.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults. They are characterized by excessive worry and fear that interfere with daily activities. While there are many different types of anxiety disorders, they all share some common symptoms and diagnostic criteria. The most common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Other less common types include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and specific phobias.
This blog post will take a closer look at the diagnostic criteria for each type of anxiety disorder and delve into treatment options. By understanding these criteria, you may better identify whether you or someone you know is struggling with an anxiety disorder and get help from the therapists at Springsource Psychological Center.
Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions defined by persistent and intense fear, worry, and unease. Even though these emotions arecommon, they can become debilitating when triggered by relatively minor matters or events, disproportionately affecting individuals’ lives. To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a person must exhibit several of these symptoms for at least six months.
Generally, an anxiety disorder will be diagnosed if the individual’s life is significantly impacted daily with abnormal levels of distress negatively impacting their functioning within the family, workplace, or other environments.
With any mental health condition, early diagnosis is key when helping those suffering live healthier lives. For example, people with anxiety can successfully manage their symptoms with proper diagnosis and treatment options, including medications, psychotherapy, support groups, or lifestyle changes.
Anxiety disorders are a class of psychological conditions characterized by fear and apprehension that can manifest in various ways. Common manifestations include generalized anxiety, panic disorder, social anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each type of disorder presents unique symptoms and varying levels of distress and duration. Additionally, the wide range of severity makes it difficult to diagnose any particular condition without the help of trained professionals such as our Springsource Psychological Center therapists.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder can include physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and sweating, psychological symptoms such as persistent worry or rumination about future events, and behavioral symptoms such as avoidance of social situations or activities. Additionally, people with an anxiety disorder may have difficulty sleeping or concentrating due to their racing thoughts.
It is important to seek medical help if the symptoms do not improve with self-care methods such as relaxation techniques, healthy eating habits, exercise, and regular sleep. In addition, people with anxiety can successfully manage their symptoms with proper diagnosis and treatment options, including medications, psychotherapy, support groups, or lifestyle changes.
Seeking help is the first step to getting diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. A doctor or mental health professional will work with you to identify symptoms, evaluate their severity and impact on daily functioning, and ultimately diagnose any condition based on criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Springsource Psychological Center professionals can identify and treat your specific anxiety disorder.
These criteria are used to identify a range of anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, and Separation Anxiety Disorder. The DSM-5 outlines the following diagnostic criteria for diagnosing an anxiety disorder:
1. Excessive fear or anxiety in response to certain triggers: Individuals with anxiety disorders experience extreme levels of fear or anxiety that may be disproportionate to the actual danger posed by the feared object or situation. This fear or anxiety can interfere with an individual’s daily functioning.
2. Avoidance of typically feared objects or situations: Individuals with anxiety disorders often go to great lengths to avoid encounters with objects or situations they perceive as dangerous. This avoidance can be so extreme that it severely interferes with daily life and activities, such as work or school, social events, and other responsibilities.
3. Significant distress from physical symptoms: Physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders can include increased heart rate, shaking, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, chest tightness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, stomach upset, and fatigue. These physical symptoms often lead to further distress and discomfort for those experiencing them.
4. Cognitive impairment: Anxiety can significantly impact an individual’s cognition, leading to difficulties concentrating and focusing on tasks at hand and impaired decision-making abilities. It may also lead to difficulty sleeping due to worries about future events and recurrent intrusive thoughts, which further limit individuals’ ability to focus during waking hours.
5. Impairment in social functioning: Anxiety disorders can interfere with an individual’s ability to interact socially due to fear of judgment from others or of embarrassing oneself in front of a group situation. An individual may experience feelings of isolation due to this inability to participate in social activities that many people take for granted.
6. Disruptive behavior: Anxiety can lead individuals to engage in disruptive behaviors such as aggression towards other people or property destruction to try and cope with stressors they cannot control or manage otherwise.
7. Impact on physical health: Anxiety disorders can have a serious negative impact on one’s physical health due to excessive worry leading to inadequate sleep patterns, which weakens the immune system making individuals more vulnerable to illnesses like colds or influenza; an increase in muscle tension that creates pain throughout the body; digestive problems caused by elevated stress hormones impacting digestion; nervous system overstimulation leading various types of bodily aches; and even respiratory conditions caused by hyperventilation brought on by panic attacks during periods of intense stress or worry.
If you’re experiencing anxiety symptoms, it’s vital to seek professional help to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Treatment for anxiety disorders may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications such as antidepressants, or relaxation techniques.
The key is to take steps to find the best possible treatment plan for your individual needs so that you can start managing symptoms and improving your quality of life. These treatments can involve cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy, medication that may include antidepressants and other drugs, lifestyle changes like yoga and exercise, and specialized online programs. While each individual’s healing journey is unique, there are various targeted pathways for those willing to work with professionals to explore the best treatment option for their specific situation.
Springsource Psychological Center, located in Chicago, Illinois, has qualified therapists to offer solutions tailored to your needs. Many effective treatment options are available for anxiety disorders, so there is no need to suffer silently. With the help of a qualified mental health professional, you can overcome your anxiety and start living a happier, healthier life. Fortunately, there is a variety of successful treatment options to help individuals suffering from anxiety-related conditions.
With the proper support and resources, it is possible to find relief from anxiety so that you can look forward to living your life to its fullest potential. Let the professionals at Springsource Psychological Center help you find relief. Well-versed in therapies and practices that target the root cause of your specific anxiety disorder, our therapists can journey with you toward a healthier, happier you.