May 4 is National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day
Worried, Anxious, Fearful?
If any of these terms feels familiar, you're definitely not alone. Every year, an estimated 17 million to 19 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, according to Freedom From Fear (FFF), a national nonprofit organization that aims to educate the public about anxiety and depressive disorders. Yet, a much smaller number seek treatment. FFF’s 12th annual National Anxiety Disorders Screening Day, May 4, makes information about this condition more accessible through free screenings at public and private health centers nationwide.
All anxiety disorders are marked by chronic, inappropriate levels of anxiety, but different types of disorders display different symptoms:
• Worry without reason, being easily tired, insomnia, and aches and pains unattributable to existing physical conditions may signify generalized anxiety disorder.
• Repeated spells of dizziness, shortness of breath, and/or feelings of being about to die often signal a panic attack.
• After a traumatic experience, frequent nightmares, flashbacks, feelings that people are watching you, and/or difficulties trusting people can indicate post-traumatic stress disorder.
• Performing routines excessively (for example, washing hands or checking locks), fearing that you will hurt a loved one, and/or the inability to stop thinking such thoughts may mean obsessive/compulsive disorder.
• Fear of embarrassing oneself, fear of meeting new people, avoidance of school or work, and shaking and sweating uncontrollably when in public may point to social phobia.
Anxiety disorders are treatable illnesses. A variety of therapies and/or medications can reduce or eliminate symptoms. If you think that you or a family member has an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor.
For more information about anxiety disorders, visit the National Institute of Mental Health at www.nimh.nih.gov/anxiety/ . Or, check out www.freedomfromfear.org for an online screening questionnaire and further information about anxiety disorders.
Related reading: The Fear Factor: How to Deal With Panic Attacks
Plus More mental health information.