When Anxiety Emerges and Persists
Monday, July 06, 2009
When severe anxiety emerges and persists, our lives seem to take on a pervasive pall. We're convinced we'll never feel like ourselves again, that no one could understand what we're going through. Sometimes anxiety is milder, not so devastating, not so disabling, not so constant--but disturbing and bothersome nonetheless.

Anxiety comes in many forms and in varying degrees, sometimes out of the blue, sometimes after painful or traumatic experiences. But however it manifests itself, help is available--if we seek the proven approaches that research has translated into effective treatments, namely, certain types of psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both.

Yet, many of the nearly 20 million Americans who suffer from an anxiety disorder don't reach out--whether because they're unaware they have a treatable condition or they fear what others will think. But the sooner a person gets help, the quicker he or she can feel good again--sometimes for the first time in many years.

Symptoms of the five major types of anxiety disorders may be experienced differently and can also overlap or change over time. They may include obsessions and compulsions; recurrent nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and emotional numbing; feelings of unreality; sudden panic, with racing heartbeat, dizziness, and sweating; avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations or places; relentless worry about objectively unjustified concerns; and/or irrational fears, whether of rarely encountered objects, such as snakes, or of daily situations, such as the need to interact with people.

Anxiety disorders can fill people's lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health