Stress and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety and stress are a normal part of life, but for some, they can become persistent, interrupting their ability to enjoy life and be productive. Anxiety and stress disorders affect daily activities such as work, school and sleep. They often lead to relationship problems and over time can produce health problems. Millions of people struggle with one or more of these disorders, but effective treatments are available that are providing hope and relief.

Categorizing Anxiety & Stress Disorders

There are several types of disorder that meet the general definition. These include:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This disorder is characterized by persistent concern and worry about both minor and significant issues.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or OCD: The obsessive component includes persistent and recurring images. The compulsive side involves a very strong desire to perform irrational acts or rituals.
  • Panic Attacks: These cause sudden terror and deep apprehension and can lead to labored breathing, chest pain or heart palpitations. They can cause feelings of being choked or of losing your mind.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD: This disorder causes people to feel as if they are going through a traumatic event all over again. The physical and emotional responses are intense and uncomfortable.
  • Specific Phobias: A wide range of fears about very specific things such as social settings characterize phobias.

There are less common but just as serious mood disorders of this type such as Acute Stress disorder, Separation Anxiety disorder, Anxiety related to a medical condition and Unspecified Anxiety disorders.

The Causes of Anxiety & Stress Disorders

The causes are still being studied, but certain factors are prevalent in those who suffer with these issues. They include a genetic or inherited predisposition to be anxious and worry. Traumatic events often trigger persistent anxiety and stress. Underlying health issues are often viewed as a cause. These include heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, asthma, drug addictions, withdrawal from medication and rare tumors that produce hormones related to the fight or flight response.

Childhood trauma is also a factor for many. The buildup of stress or stress caused by an illness can produce anxiety. Some personalities are more likely to experience stress and anxiety too, and it is often inherited. Drug and alcohol addictions can cause or worsen stress and anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety & Stress Disorders

Symptoms include deep feelings of fear or apprehension, even terror for some. A sense of impending danger or doom is common. Many feel powerless. Physical symptoms can include increased heart rate or palpitations, shaking, sweating and feeling very weak and lethargic. Relationship problems are often a byproduct of the symptoms and behaviors.

Finding Help for Anxiety & Stress Disorders

If you believe you might be suffering from one of these mood disorders, the first step is to speak with your doctor about it.

There are many clinically proven treatments for stress and anxiety disorders that can provide you with help and relief. They typically involve therapy and medication, though some people respond to just one or the other by itself. Counseling in stress management is often very helpful. A physical exam and psychological exam are often given to determine the right treatment.

The Cost of Treatment and the Place of Insurance

The good news is that most health insurance policies cover some or all of the treatment including some medications. Those who treat these disorders will work with you to develop a course of treatment that fits the level of insurance you have.

With a commitment to the program designed by healthcare professionals, most of those who suffer from anxiety and stress disorders experience a significant amount of relief. The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms you have and then discuss them with your doctor. He or she will help you choose the next steps in winning the battle over stress and anxiety and pursuing a brighter future for yourself.