The Truth About Anxiety Disorders

Learn About Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in America, affecting about 20% of the population at any given time. Sadly, some people do not seek treatment for their illness because they aren’t sure they have a problem or that their problem can be successfully treated. Or they’re just too embarrassed to talk with anybody about it.

Often anxiety disorders are difficult to recognize.  Take our quiz below, and see how your knowledge of anxiety disorders stacks up. You may find that you or someone you love fits the description of anxiety disorder and decide that it is time to do something about it.

Anxiety Disorders – TRUE OR FALSE?  

Men and women are equally susceptible to getting anxiety disorders

FALSE: Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.  In fact, according to the government’s National Institute of Mental Health, women are 60 percent more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime.

My mother has an anxiety disorder. Does that mean I will get one?

MAYBE, but not necessarily: Although studies suggest that people are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if their parents have anxiety disorders, it has not been proved conclusively which plays the greater role in the development of these disorders, biology or environment. Scientists currently assert that, like heart disease and type 1 diabetes, anxiety disorders result from a combination of factors, including genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental. So while anxiety disorders can run in families, having a very clear genetic link, that is not necessarily the rule; there are other contributing factors, such as medical illnesses, brain injury, etc. 


Some personality types are more prone to anxiety disorders than others

TRUE: People with certain personality types are more likely to develop anxiety disorders than are others. 


Anxiety disorders are rare

FALSE: Anxiety disorders are the most common of emotional disorders and affect more than 40 million American adults age 18 years and older in a given year, causing them to be filled with a great deal of fearfulness, nervousness, and often panic.


Symptoms of anxiety disorders are over-exaggerated

FALSE: Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, but all the symptoms group around extreme, irrational fear and dread. And to the individual experiencing these feelings, their lives are deeply affected—some to the point of suicidal thoughts. Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worrisome situation


Any event of anxiety is an anxiety disorder

FALSE: Activities such as speaking or singing in public, performing a piano recital, and asking someone on a date can trigger normal episodes of anxiety. These are common, usually relatively mild, and short-lived. Having an anxiety disorder, however, looks very different from normal anxiety.  People with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Sudden episodes of intense anxiety and fear or terror can reach a high within just minutes in anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders generally last at least six months and can get worse if they are not treated. Early intervention is often key to effective treatment.

Source and

Recurring nightmares can be a symptom of anxiety disorders

TRUE: While a random nightmare doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem, recurring nightmares can be an indicator of an anxiety disorder. Other symptoms of anxiety disorders include: 

• Overwhelming feelings of panic and fear
• Uncontrollable obsessive thoughts
• Painful, intrusive memories
• Recurring nightmares
• Physical symptoms such as feeling sick to your stomach, “butterflies” in your stomach, heart pounding, startling easily, and muscle tension


PTSD is a war-related disorder that could never affect me

FALSE: PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, can occur as a result of not just combat situations but also when you experience an event involving actual or threatened death, serious injury or sexual violation. PTSD can produce such symptoms as nightmares, flashbacks, a quickness to startle or scare, or feelings of numbness and irritability, often lasting weeks or even months after the event and with such severity that working and maintaining core relationships is difficult. Many find it difficult to discuss their symptoms because they would rather not discuss their trauma that caused them. This is common in victims of sexual abuse and in combat veterans.

Source NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

Medicine is the only solution to anxiety disorders

FALSE: Each anxiety disorder has its own unique characteristics and thus its own treatment, but effective treatments for anxiety disorders include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapies, relaxation techniques, aerobic exercise and medications. Because treatment often requires several weeks to work best, a psychiatrist such as those at Clay Behavioral Health Services should follow the patient’s progress and make necessary changes.
Source NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

A person usually only has one anxiety disorder

FALSE: A person can have more than one anxiety disorder. Among the most common anxiety disorders are:

  • Phobias
  • Panic Disorder
  • OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Source NAMI – National Alliance on Mental Illness

There is nothing that can be done for anxiety disorders

FALSE: Unfortunately many people with anxiety disorders don’t seek help, not realizing that the illness they have actually has known causes and effective treatments. Most anxiety disorders respond to two types of treatment: psychotherapy and medications. While not necessarily a cure, these treatments can give significant relief from symptoms. Contacting a qualified behavioral medical specialist such as those at Clay Behavioral Health Services should be your first step in seeking treatment.


What to do now

If you are concerned that you may have an anxiety disorder, do not wait in getting the help you need. See your doctor or specialist, if:

  • You have suicidal thoughts (URGENCY is necessary here – DO NOT Delay – Call 911 for help NOW)
  • You are worrying too much and it’s interfering with your work, relationships and life activities
  • Your fear, worry or anxiety is upsetting to you
  • You feel depressed
  • You have trouble with alcohol or drug use
  • You have a physical health problem that you think might be causing your anxiety

Seeking help early on for anxiety disorders often makes them easier to treat. If you need counseling or help dealing with anxiety, call Clay Behavioral Health Center at 904.291.5561, or walk in* to our office Monday through Friday any time between 8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and let us point you in the direction of good health with answers to your questions and solutions to your worries. Let this be the year of a newer and healthier you!

 *No appointment is necessary

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