Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses in the United States, with 40 million adults—one-fifth of the population—suffering from anxiety. While anxiety disorders are treatable, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that only one-third of those suffering are receiving treatment.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. Anxiety can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders, but the most common types are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is diagnosed when an individual finds it difficult to control worry on more days than not for at least six months and has three or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty controlling the worry
- Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
- Being easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety disorder can experience significant emotional distress in many daily situations, with symptoms including:
- Feeling highly anxious about being with other people and having a hard time talking to them
- Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or fearful of offending others
- Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
- Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
- Blushing, sweating or trembling around other people
- Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around
Treatments for Anxiety Disorders
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Treatments must be tailored individually to each person’s specific anxieties and needs. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help with anxiety disorders, teaching individuals different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to anxiety-producing and fearful situations. CBT specifically targets thoughts, physical symptoms and behaviors to help patients change their relationship to symptoms.
While medications don’t cure anxiety disorders, they can be used to help treat symptoms in conjunction with therapy. At SeattleNTC, we make as many treatment options available to our patients as possible. Although transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has not yet been FDA-approved for use with anxiety disorders, many of our patients have significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms following treatment with TMS.