Tuesday, September 1, 2009

anxiety research

For SmallSteps, I did a lot of anxiety research. Here are some of my notes from that project...

"Anxiety Disorders Association of America"

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18.1% of U.S. population).

  • Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country's $148 billion total mental health bill

"National Institute of Mental Health"
"Anxiety Disorders PDF"

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress...In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder. Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms,
but all the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread.

5 Main Types of Anxiety Disorders:

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

    • can't seem to shake their concerns.

    • worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, and hot flashes.

  2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

    • characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

    • persistent, unwelcome thoughts or images, or the urgent need to engage in certain rituals...They may be filled with doubt and feel the need to check things repeatedly.

  3. Panic Disorder

    • characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear

    • accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.

  4. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    • develops after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened

    • persistent frightening thoughts and memories of an ordeal

    • emotional numbness, sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled

  5. Social Phobia

    • can be limited to only one type of situation or almost anytime someone is around other people.

    • persistent, intense, and chronic fear of being watched and judged by others and being embarrassed or humiliated by their own actions.

    • severe fear can interfere with work or school, and other ordinary activities.

    • blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

  • "How to Get Help for Anxiety Disorders"

    "Treatment of Anxiety Disorders"

  • Anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both

  • Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can keep them under control while the person receives psychotherapy

  • Sometimes people must try several different treatments or combinations of treatment before they find the one that works for them.

  • The practitioners who are most helpful with anxiety disorders are those who have training in cognitive-behavioral therapy and/or behavioral therapy, and who are open to using medication if it is needed.

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy...helps people change the thinking patterns that support their fears, and the behavioral part helps people change the way they react to anxiety-provoking situations.

  • Exposure-based behavioral therapy has been used for many years to treat specific phobias. The person gradually encounters the object or situation that is feared, perhaps at first only through pictures or tapes, then later face-to-face. Often the therapist will accompany the person to a feared situation to provide support and guidance.

  • Many people benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their problems and achievements with others. Internet chat rooms can also be useful in this regard, but any advice received over the Internet should be used with caution

  • Talking with a trusted friend or member of the clergy can also provide support, but it is not a substitute for care from a mental health professional.

Determining if you have an anxiety disorder

The Anxiety Disorders Association of America has a bunch of tests you can take to begin the diagnosis process, including the "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Self-Test" :

  • Do you have unwanted ideas, images, or impulses that seem silly, nasty, or horrible?

  • Do you worry excessively about dirt, germs, or chemicals?

  • Do you keep many useless things because you feel that you can't throw them away?

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