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We all have anxiety. It can be brought on by a number of life circumstances … that important exam, big interview, or that first date. This is all quite normal and healthy. For some, however, these feelings of nervousness aren't so rare. Instead, the anxiety is an overwhelming constant feeling that disrupts the quality of everyday living.

An estimated 30 million Americans (approx. 1 in 9) suffer from an illness of the nervous system known as an "anxiety disorder." This is the most common of the emotional disorders.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • overwhelming feelings of panic and fear;
  • obsessive thoughts that are difficult to control;
  • nausea, sweating, muscle tension, and other uncomfortable physical reactions.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can run in families. It is suggested that genetics, possibly in combination with life experiences, make some people more susceptible to an anxiety disorder.

Our brain chemistry can also play a role in the onset of anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety disorders are often relieved by medications that alter levels of chemicals in the brain.

Finally, life experiences such as abuse, trauma, and poverty can contribute to an individual's increased anxiety.

Here are some types of Anxiety Disorders:

Panic Disorder

A seemingly uncontrollable state of fear (a.k.a. Anxiety Attack) in which the individual may experience pounding heart or chest pain, sweating, shakiness, nausea, light-headedness, numbness, and feeling as if "I'm losing control" or "I'm dying."

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Ongoing excessive worry for a period of at least 6 months. People with GAD focus their worries on everyday concerns such as health, family, and work. These individuals worry constantly, even when there is no apparent reason for doing so.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessions are irrational anxious thoughts that cannot be controlled through reasoning. People with OCD engage in repetitive rituals/behaviors in attempts to reduce anxiety.


A phobia is an extreme persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity. A person is diagnosed with a phobia when this fear begins to interfere with daily living. Those with a debilitating phobia may go to great lengths to avoid the source of their fear.

Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD)

This disorder occurs in individuals who have been through a traumatic emotional event. People with PTSD relive their experience through recurrent nightmares or flashbacks of the event. They also can go through extreme emotional and physical distress when reminded of the trauma.

Treatment Options

Each anxiety disorder, and every person, has their own unique characteristics and stories.

Most though, will respond well to two types of treatment - medication and psychotherapy. Both treatments can be effective in decreasing symptoms of anxiety and, therefore, allow people to live happier and healthier lives!

The counseling center is a good place to go if you think that you might be suffering from anxiety.The counselors there can evaluate your situation and provide services to help you to better manage your symptoms.

There is hope in overcoming anxiety.

American Psychology Association