7 Things You Might Not Know About Anxiety Disorders

  • Worried Woman
    Anxiety Information You May Not Know
    Everyone experiences some anxiety in their lifetime, but when anxious feelings constantly disrupt your ability to live a normal life, then you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and even pregnancy anxiety. Anxiety disorders can begin in childhood, or they can develop in adulthood, especially as a result of experiencing a traumatic event. Find out what you need to know about anxiety and depression, anxiety for kids and the potential genetic component of anxiety so you can manage your condition and feel well again.

  • girl sad in class
    1. Excessive, or persistent anxiety in children is not normal.
    Adults can sometimes dismiss children’s complaints. An anxious child may be labeled “just shy,” “timid,” or “attention-seeking.” But handling anxiety in kids as if it’s not a serious disorder is a mistake. Anxiety disorders can cripple children if not diagnosed and treated appropriately. In kids, an anxiety disorder may present as frequent stomach aches, headaches, defiance or restlessness that persists over six months or more. If your child worries constantly about school, grades or the family’s health and well-being, see a doctor, nurse or behavioral health specialist for an evaluation.

  • happy African American father son and grandfather on hike
    2. Anxiety may be hereditary.
    The precise cause of anxiety disorders remains unknown. However, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports anxiety tends to run in families, and studies support the idea that there may be a genetic element involved. If your family tree includes people with anxiety disorders, you (and your children) may be at higher risk for an anxiety disorder.

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    3. Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand.
    Many people with anxiety disorders also experience depression. The depression may be episodic—tied to a specific event, time period or trauma—or last for a long time, possibly as a lifelong condition. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder also has depression, but your behavioral health provider likely will assess you for depression if you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The treatments for both conditions are similar, with medications to treat your mood and help you feel well again. Cognitive behavioral therapy and self-care also can be effective ways to lessen both anxiety and depression.

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    4. Pregnancy anxiety can occur before or after childbirth.
    Many pregnant women or new mothers feel anxious about their baby’s well-being. But excessive anxiety that interferes with your ability to care for the child or yourself might be something more. As a disorder, pregnancy anxiety may be much more common than people realize. In fact, it may be as common as postpartum depression. Pregnancy anxiety symptoms to watch for include extreme mood swings, feeling ‘robotic’ as you go through the motions of everyday life, and feeling like a failure. If this describes your situation, seek professional medical care.

  • woman during psychotherapy counseling session
    5. Cognitive behavioral therapy for anxiety can be very effective.
    Talking with a trained counselor may relieve your anxious feelings, but a technique called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) goes beyond just talking. It helps you learn ways to change your thought patterns. CBT teaches you mental exercises that can help you respond or react to situations in a mentally healthy manner, rather than in ways that create anxiety. CBT also gives you tools to change your behaviors associated with the anxiety response to reduce the frequency of episodes or lessen your overall anxiety.

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    6. Stressful events can trigger an anxiety disorder.
    Stressful or traumatic events can cause anxiety that lingers for a long time and eventually becomes a disorder. Witnessing or experiencing violence, abuse, the death of a loved one, a difficult birth, or chronic illness can cause an anxiety disorder in adults and children. If you or your child have lived through any such situation, watch for trauma-induced anxiety signs and symptoms that include panic attacks, nervousness, physical complaints like stomach pains, or hypervigilance (constantly scanning the environment for danger) that lasts more than six months. Seek professional care if these symptoms arise.

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    7. Medical conditions can mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
    The adrenaline-fueled fight-or-flight sensation that can accompany a panic attack may not be anxiety at all. Thyroid disorders like hyperthyroidism and cardiac conditions like an arrhythmia may trigger identical symptoms. Before diagnosing an anxiety disorder, your doctor or nurse will review your medical history and obtain lab work to rule out an underlying medical condition as a cause of your symptoms. Only after ensuring your physical health isn’t the cause of your anxiety-type symptoms will your healthcare provider refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist for treatment.

7 Things You Might Not Know About Anxiety Disorders

About The Author

As “the nurse who knows content,” Elizabeth Hanes, RN, works with national and regional healthcare systems, brands, agencies and publishers to produce all types of consumer-facing content. Formerly a perioperative and cosmetic surgery nurse, Elizabeth today uses her nursing knowledge to inform her writing on a wide variety of medical, health and wellness topics.
  1. Anxiety. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  2. Help with Anxiety Disorders. American Psychiatric Association. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders
  3. Anxiety Disorders. U.S. Office on Women’s Health. https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/anxiety-disorders
  4. Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children. U.S. National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007687.htm
  5. Anxiety Disorders. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders
  6. Depression. National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Depression
  7. Depression and Anxiety: Can I Have Both? Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/depression-and-anxiety/faq-20057989
  8. Depression and Anxiety During Pregnancy and After Birth: Q&A. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/prenatal/Pages/Depression-and-Anxiety-During-Pregnancy-and-After-Birth-FAQs.aspx
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.