Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a part of every day life. Anxiety can be beneficial, heightening alertness and preparing the body for action. Anxiety or fear is a protection from danger. However, these fears are not normal when they become overwhelming and interfere with daily living. Then, they are symptoms of an anxiety disorder, one of a group of disorders that are, according to the American Psychiatric Association, the most common and most successfully treated form of mental illness.

Who Is Affected?

The American Psychiatric Association estimates that anxiety disorders affect 8.3 percent of all Americans.


Researchers believe there is no single situation or condition that causes anxiety disorders. They believe physical and environmental factors may combine to create the illness. Biochemical imbalances, learned behavior or unconscious conflicts are all labeled as culprits. Likely, they all contribute to some extent in many cases.


Symptoms of anxiety disorders include shakiness, sweating, dizziness, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, lump in throat, cold clammy hands, tingling to hands or feet, and high pulse and/or breathing rate. All of these can be symptoms of any of the anxiety disorders. Symptoms can be so severe that they are almost totally disabling.

In addition to these general symptoms, more specific symptoms can appear including:

  • Terror, dread, or panic in response to a specific object or situation.
  • Intense, overwhelming, terror for no apparent reason at unpredictable times.
  • Repeated, unwanted thought, obsessions, or rituals (repeated acts meant to cope with anxiety) that get out of control themselves compulsions.
  • Nightmares of reliving traumatic events, emotional numbness, excessive alertness, and increased startle reaction.

People suffering from these disorders can also be impatient, irritable, and easily distracted. They worry more than others and are often tense. (People suffering from depression can also experience some of these symptoms.)


A combination of psychotherapy and medication custom-tailored to the patient’s specific condition can successfully relieve anxiety disorders. Behavior therapy is often used in treating phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders. According to the severity of the symptoms, outpatient therapy, day treatment or intense inpatient hospitalization are all settings in which anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. Individual therapy, group therapy, occupational and recreational therapy and treatment with psychiatric medications can be prescribed in a combination unique to the individual’s recovery needs.

For More Information

If you would like more information about anxiety disorders or other topics, please contact New Horizons Counseling Center at (815) 235-6171.