Anxiety is a very common, yet often misunderstood, condition. Most people experience anxiety at some point as it is a normal reaction to stressful circumstances. A car mishap on the freeway while driving to work causes anxiety; arriving home and realizing the door key is missing causes anxiety. These are everyday situations in which the anxiety is relieved immediately as soon as the problem is resolved.
Generalized anxiety disorder is a different matter. According to the National Institute on Mental Health, when experiencing generalized anxiety disorder, a person feels anxious without a stressor. This individual may feel a sense of impending doom and have negative thoughts about the outcome of almost any situation. The disorder saps energy and affects a person’s ability to function in their daily life. Relaxing is out of the question and even sleep and appetite are affected.
Scott Stossel, author of “My Age of Anxiety, Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind,” developed separation anxiety when he first attended nursery school. By the age of 10, he had acquired intense fears and some phobias. His parents took him to a psychiatrist and he was diagnosed with a spectrum of anxiety disorders.
With the help of therapy and medication, Stossel navigated middle school quite well and excelled in high school despite experiencing recurring anxiety attacks. He enjoyed his college experience at Harvard but following graduation, his anxiety returned in full force. During his twenties, Stossel tried many treatments and therapies, some were helpful and some were not.
His book “My Age of Anxiety, Fear, Hope, Dread and the Search for Peace of Mind,” explains how he came to terms with his condition.
Stossel credits treatment with teaching him the coping mechanisms necessary to function in everyday society. He said, “Without the treatment and assistance I’ve received along the way, however, I don’t know how I would have fared.”
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders affect 40 million Americans aged 18 and over. While these are treatable conditions, only about one-third of those experiencing anxiety disorders receive treatment. Many may not even recognize the presence of a disorder, thereby leaving the condition untreated.
As with many other mental health disorders, the sooner treatment is started, the better the outcome. Resources are available to assist those with generalized anxiety disorder understand symptoms of the condition and find treatment. If you suspect that you or a loved one is experiencing an anxiety disorder, help is available. For further information, please call Florida Anxiety Helpline at any time.