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Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems affecting people today.  There are several types of disorders such as general anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety, and social anxiety disorder.   Anxiety disorders are a serious mental illness, and can interfere with a person's ability to work or deal with every day life.

General anxiety disorders are typically people who worry to the extreme.  It develops slowly and usually  begins during teen years.  Some symptoms associated with GED are worrying about every day things, not being able to relax, easily startled, trouble falling or staying asleep, feeling tired all the time, frequent headaches, hard time swallowing, irritable, light-headed, out of breath, or excessive bathroom trips. 

General anxiety disorders seem to run in families, but no one knows exactly what causes it.  Generally, GED is treated by psychotherapy, medication, or both.   General anxiety disorders affect 6.8 million, and women are twice as likely to be affected than men.

Obsessive Compulsive disorder is someone who feels the need to constantly double-check things like turning off the stove before leaving home repeatedly.  OCD usually starts in teenage years  and patients are typically diagnosed by age 19.  Some symptoms of OCD are repeatedly checking things, being overly tidy, or doing the same thing over and over.

OCD also tends to run in families, but researchers don't know exactly what causes it.  OCD is also treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both.  Obsessive compulsive disorder affects about 2.2 million people, and is equally common among men and women. 

Panic disorders are people who suffer from panic attacks, which are attacks of fear when there is no real threat or danger.  Attacks can happen anytime, and patients worry about having them.  The attacks happen suddenly with no warning.  Signs are a feeling of being out of control during an attack, an intense worry about when the next one will take place, avoiding places where attacks have occurred, racing heart, sweating, breathing problems, dizziness, hot or cold chills, tingly or numb hands, and chest or stomach pain.

Panic disorders run in families and the cause of the disorder is not known.  Patients are treated by psychotherapy, medication, or both.  Learning breathing techniques can also be helpful for use during an episode.  Panic disorders affect about 6 million people, and women are twice as likely to be affected than men.

Post traumatic stress disorder is anxiety that affects some people after a major dangerous event has taken place in their lives.  Some symptoms are flashbacks, bad dreams, scary thoughts, staying away from anything that reminds the patient of the event, feeling emotionally numb, guilt, or depression, easily startled, edgy, difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts. 

Anyone can develop PST at any age.  Sometimes this affects war veterans, survivors of physical and sexual abuse, accidents, death of a loved one, or being witness to something disastrous.  PST is treated by psychotherapy, medications, or both.  Post traumatic stress affects 7.7 million people, with women being more likely to be affected. 

Separation anxiety is not as common but affects mainly children and young adults.  When a child has symptoms for at least four weeks due to being separated from a family member or someone they are very close to, it is considered separation anxiety.  Symptoms include feeling anxious, headaches, heart palpitations, light-headedness, nausea, stomach-ache, cramps, vomiting, muscle aches, worrying about family member, problems falling asleep, depression, tantrums, and nightmares.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is considered to be the best treatment, but can take time.

Social anxiety disorders is when people strongly fear being judged, ridiculed, or embarrassed by others.  It usually begins during youth, and is typically diagnosed after six consecutive months of symptoms.  Signs include be very anxious when around others and difficulty talking to others, very self-conscious, extremely afraid of being judged or ridiculed, blush, sweat, or tremble around others, or feeling nauseous or sick around others. 

Social phobia runs in families but the cause is not known.  It is treated by psychotherapy, medication, or both.  Social anxiety disorder affects 15 million people, and is equally common among men and women.

Anxiety disorders effect about 40 million adults in the United States alone in the 18 and up population.  Only about 1/3 of people receive treatment.  One in eight children are affected by anxiety.  People who suffer from anxiety will probably also be diagnosed with depression, or another type of mental health issue.  Anxiety is a common affect of stress and a normal human emotion.  Most everyone has been anxious at some time when going to a new job interview, taking a test, or faced with a difficult problem.  Disorders are different because a person becomes so anxious that it affects their day to day life. 

Though much isn't known about the causes of anxiety orders, researchers believe that it has to do with chemical imbalances of the body.  Studies show that long term stress can alter the balance of chemicals in the brain that control a person's mood.  Researchers also believe genetic and environmental factors play a role. 

When diagnosing anxiety the doctor will evaluate your medical history and perform a physical exam to rule out other health issues.  If no physical illness is found the doctor will refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist.  Mental health professionals are trained to diagnose mental illnesses by using designed interviews and assessments during an evaluation.  The diagnosis is also based on how severe symptoms are and how long they typically last.  While most treatments include medicine and therapy, some patients find relief by changing the way they eat or by practicing relaxation techniques. 

It is very important to talk to your doctor and seek treatment if you experience any of these symptoms for a period of time.  People with undiagnosed anxiety disorders are at risk for committing suicide, and should seek help immediately if any suicidal feelings exist.  Always take any threats seriously and get help as soon as possible.