An Introduction to Anxiety Disorders in the United States

post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Todd Belok is a mental health technician with the Temple University Hospital Episcopal Campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In this position, Todd Belok oversees a variety of therapeutic patient activities, including programs to treat anxiety, depression, and an array of phobias.

The physical and emotional sensations associated with anxiety are physiological reactions to stressful, potentially dangerous situations. Indeed, anxiety is one of the human body’s lines of defense against harmful activities. However, some individuals experience persistent, unusually high levels of anxiety that can occur independent of external stimuli. Such individuals may suffer from an anxiety disorder.

There are a variety of anxiety disorders with which a person can be diagnosed, including general anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder and panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, and even selective mutism. An anxiety disorder may also be related to a phobia or similar disorders such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Anxiety disorders collectively rank as the most widespread psychiatric malady among children and adults in the United States. As many as 40 million Americans live with some form of anxiety. While these disorders are highly treatable, only about 13 million individuals receive treatment.

Symptoms indicative of an anxiety disorder range from sudden, unexplainable panic attacks to a consistent level of anxiety that prevents a person from engaging in everyday activities. Individuals dealing with anxiety disorders often describe a feeling of dread at all times and an expectation of something terrible occurring at any moment.

Any person who feels they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder should reach out to family and friends, as well as medical professionals and anxiety support groups. Some individuals may require medication and therapy to overcome their disorder, while others may benefit from simpler treatments like increased exercise and general calming techniques.

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