Anxiety disorders are not just a case of "nerves." You can't overcome an anxiety disorder just through willpower, nor can the symptoms be ignored or wished away. These disorders cause you to feel anxious most of the time, making some everyday situations so uncomfortable that you may avoid them entirely. Or, you may experience occasional instances of anxiety that are so terrifying and intense that you may be immobilized with fear.
Although these conditions can be very frightening and disabling, they are also very treatable. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek help.
Specifically, Phobias afflict as many as 12 percent of all Americans. They are the most common psychiatric illness in women and the second most common in men over age 25. Phobias are not all the same.
There are three main groups which include:
Specific Or Simple Phobias
Specific Or Simple Phobias produce intense fear of a particular object or situation that is, in fact, relatively safe. People who suffer from specific phobias are aware that their fear is irrational, but the thought of facing the object or situation often brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.
Specific phobias strike more than 1 in 10 people, and they usually begin in adolescence or adulthood. They start suddenly and tend to be more persistent than childhood phobias; only about 20 percent of adult phobias vanish on their own. When children have specific phobias--for example, a fear of animals--those fears usually disappear over time, though they may continue into adulthood. No one knows why they persist in some people and disappear in others.
Examples of specific phobias include persistent fear of dogs, insects, or snakes; driving a car; heights; tunnels or bridges; thunderstorms; and/or flying.
Social Phobia can produce fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in front of other people. This problem may also be related to feelings of inferiority and low self-esteem, and can drive a person to drop out of school, avoid making friends, and remain unemployed.
Although this disorder is sometimes thought to be shyness, it is not the same thing. Shy people do not experience extreme anxiety in social situations, nor do they necessarily avoid them. In contrast, people with social phobia can be at ease with people most of the time, except in particular situations. Often social phobia is accompanied by depression or substance abuse.
People suffering from social phobia may:
Agoraphobia causes people to suffer anxiety about being in places or situations from which it might be difficult or embarrassing to escape--such as being in a room full of people or in an elevator. In some cases, panic attacks can become so debilitating that the person may develop agoraphobia because they fear another panic attack. In extreme cases, a person with agoraphobia may be afraid to leave their house.
There Is Hope
No one should have to endure the terror of phobias or the unrelenting anticipatory anxiety that often accompanies them. Phobias can be overcome with proper treatment.