Anxiety Disorders

Overview

Feeling occasionally anxious is a normal part of life, much like feeling sad or stressed. However, an anxiety disorder is more than feeling anxious once in awhile. People with anxiety disorders experience an overwhelming and often crippling sense of worry and fear. These feelings can interfere with everyday activities and responsibilities, and last for several months or years. 

Types of Disorders

Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are several common types of anxiety disorders, some of which include:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be characterized as ongoing, persistent feelings of anxiety that interfere with day-to-day activities and affect a person’s overall quality of life.

GAD symptoms may include:

  • Persistent worry or fear that may be unjustified considering the severity of a concern
  • Difficulty concentrating and relaxing
  • Inability to let go of feelings of anxiousness
  • Distress regarding making decisions

Panic disorder can be seen in patients who experiences feelings of extreme, crippling fear or terror that occur suddenly and repeatedly without warning (also known as panic attacks).

Social anxiety disorder can be characterized as an overwhelming self-consciousness and worry pertaining to everyday social situations, often centered on a fear of being judged, or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) which cause repetitive behaviors (compulsions).

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an extreme anxiety disorder that can occur as the result of a traumatic or life-threatening event.

Signs & Symptoms

There are many different cognitive and emotional aspects and physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder. People with this condition may regularly experience any of the following anxiety symptoms:

  • Feelings of worry or dread
  • Fatigue or ambivalence
  • Irritability or impatience
  • Shallow breathing or shortness of breath
  • Restlessness or difficulty relaxing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or feeling faint
  • Tight, tense muscles
  • Chest pressure or pain
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Fear of passing out
  • Fear of going crazy or losing control
  • Fear of a heart attack or stroke
  • Obsessive or intrusive thoughts
  • Sense of imminent danger or catastrophe
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Sweating, especially the palms
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing or blushing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Choking sensation
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Feeling of "butterflies" in the stomach
  • Habitual behaviors like nail-biting

The signs of an anxiety disorder may be different from person to person – but everyone who struggles with an anxiety disorder can overcome this condition with the right treatment.

Risk Factors

Anxiety disorders are more common in women than in men. People with family members who have anxiety disorders are also more likely to be diagnosed with the condition. 

So what causes anxiety? Serious illnesses, depression, stress and experiences like trauma or abuse can make people more prone to developing an anxiety disorder. People who abuse drugs or alcohol are also at an increased risk of developing anxiety. 

Services & Treatments

If you’re experiencing signs of an anxiety disorder, it can feel so overwhelming that you wonder if you will ever be calm and in control again. Know that you will, and that Aurora’s behavioral health experts are here to help with treating anxiety.

Anxiety disorders can be effectively treated through therapy, anti anxiety medication or both. In addition, relaxation techniques for anxiety such as deep breathing, meditation, light exercise and yoga may also help to alleviate or reduce symptoms.

Our team of caring doctors and counselors will work with you one-on-one to help you manage and reduce anxiety so you can live a fulfilling, meaningful life.

Aurora Psychiatric Hospital has anxiety treatment programs specifically designed to help individuals handle extreme fear, severe anxiety and depression. Our adult intensive outpatient program and our partial hospitalization program provide powerful, practical ways to respond to emotional distress and manage anxiety in a healthy way.

If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, contact us at (414) 773-4312 to schedule a consultation.

Locations

Aurora Health Care operates behavioral health centers across the state, with convenient clinics in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Sheboygan, and throughout eastern Wisconsin.

Find an anxiety treatment clinic near you or search for a behavioral health specialist.

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