For people dealing with anxiety disorders, symptoms can feel strange and confusing at first. For some, the physical sensations can be strong and upsetting. For others, feelings of doom or fear that can happen for no apparent reason can make them feel scared, unprotected, and on guard. Constant worries can make a person feel overwhelmed by every little thing. All this can affect someone’s concentration, confidence, sleep, appetite, and outlook.
People with anxiety disorders might avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand. They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone.
Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or mistakenly think that anxiety is a weakness or a personal failing. Anxiety can keep people from going places or doing things they enjoy.
The good news is, doctors today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, a person can feel better.
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Experts don’t know exactly what causes anxiety disorders. Several things seem to play a role, including genetics, brain biochemistry, an overactive fight-flight response, stressful life circumstances, and learned behavior.
Someone with a family member who has an anxiety disorder has a greater chance of developing one, too. This may be related to genes that can affect brain chemistry and the regulation of chemicals called neurotransmitters. But not everyone with a family member who has an anxiety disorder will develop problems with anxiety.
Things that happen in a person’s life can also set the stage for anxiety disorders. Frightening traumatic events that can lead to PTSD are a good example.
Growing up in a family where others are fearful or anxious can “teach” a child to view the world as a dangerous place. Likewise, someone who grows up in an environment that is actually dangerous (if there is violence in the family or community, for example) may learn to be fearful or expect the worst.
Although everyone experiences normal anxiety in certain situations, most people — even those who experience traumatic situations — don’t develop anxiety disorders. And people who develop anxiety disorders can get relief with proper treatment and care. They can learn ways to manage anxiety and to feel more relaxed and at peace