Anxiety is a normal part of everyone’s life. It may be a mild sense of nervousness before taking a test or a strong fear of the unknown walking through a dark parking lot.
Anxiety can help keep us safe by alerting us to danger and helping us prepare to take quick action. Usually, anxiety goes away as soon as the trigger goes away -- you finish the test or get into your car and lock the door and immediately feel better.
But for many people in the United States, anxiety is a nearly constant condition. It can be overwhelming and may make ordinary activities difficult or impossible. This type of on-going anxiety is often called an “anxiety disorder”.
As many as 40 million adults in the United States have some type of anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions are recognized as specific mental health conditions and are collectively the most common mental illness in the United States. (Anxiety Disorders Association of America)
While some anxiety disorders are associated with a specific fear or trigger, generalized anxiety disorder covers a broad range of triggers or causes of worry. GAD is characterized by excessive or exaggerated worry or anxiety about everyday occurrences even though there is no obvious reason to worry.
People with generalized anxiety disorder may always expect the worst and may not be able to set aside fears about health, money, school, work, family, or any other factor in their lives.
More than 6.5 million adults in America live with GAD. Women are more than twice as likely to develop the condition as men. (Anxiety Disorders Association of America)
General symptoms of anxiety include:
• A feeling that you are powerless
• Feeling impending doom, danger, or panic
• Increased heart rate
• Breathing too fast (hyperventilating)
• Tiredness or fatigue
With basic anxiety, these symptoms generally have a recognizable or realistic trigger, such as a traumatic experience or being in an awkward or dangerous situation.