Anxiety is medically defined as the anticipation of future threat. Within the trials and tribulations of everyday life, occasional feelings of anxiety and stress are completely normal for people to experience. A healthy amount of anxiety can even drive a person to improve oneself in order to overcome future threats.
However, when feelings of anxiety become very frequent or extreme, anxiety disorders may develop. In contrast to regular anxiety, anxiety disorders are characterized as sharing features of excessive behavioral disturbances such as fear, which is an emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat. The severity of these various, stress-induced disorders is usually measured by continuous episodes or a prolonged period lasting up to six months or more, sometimes depending on the age of the individual. The excessiveness and extremity must also be measured by a licensed physician in order to compare or contrast the person’s perception of danger or threat with the actual level of threat. It is important that a diagnosis is made to distinguish the underlying causes from substance use or another medical condition.
While the prevalence of cases differs by specific disorder, anxiety disorders in general are twice as likely to be diagnosed in women rather than men. However, anxiety can affect all groups of people. These disorders commonly develop at a young age and can continue if not identified or remedied. If not identified early, an individual’s cautious or avoidant behaviors can grow and escalate to more pervasive responses such as panic attacks, which are common but not limited to anxiety disorders.
It is common for individuals to have anxiety associated with a specific phobia. They may show signs of impairment in psychosocial functioning and decreased quality of life similar to individuals with other mental and substance abuse disorders, including dysfunction in occupational and interpersonal relations. In fact, the average individual with specific phobias fears up to three different objects or circumstances. In such cases, multiple phobias would warrant an adherence to each disorder’s diagnostic code reflecting the particular phobic stimulus. For example, if an individual fears both thunderstorms and flying, then that person would be diagnosed with two separate, specific phobias: an environmental phobia as well as a situational phobia.
Although problems with anxiety and stress come in many forms and severities, all disorders are treatable. A safe and healthy balance of therapy and medication has been shown to be very effective in treating excessive anxiety and both can be modified to specifically suit each individual. It is also possible that someone afflicted by an anxiety disorder may also have an underlying, undiagnosed condition. For example, a person who abuses drugs may develop an anxiety disorder or a person with an anxiety disorder may start using drugs as a coping mechanism. It is imperative that if an additional condition exists, both conditions should be treated simultaneously to better improve progress and results. An extensive list of complementary and alternative treatment has also accumulated in recent years. If abundance of stress is a factor, physical exercise and relaxation techniques can help a great deal as well.
Most treatment centers accept major health insurance plans, making treatment affordable. If you or a loved one is looking for anxiety treatment and would like more information on various and specialized anxiety disorder treatment plans, please call Anxiety Treatment Centers of California at 855-972-9459.