What Are Anxiety Disorders? Could I Be at Risk?



We’ve all heard the term “anxiety”, seems like everyone I talk to these days make reference to having had an experience with anxiety.  But what are anxiety disorders really?  Are we all at risk?  If a person experiences a form of anxiety, do they automatically have an anxiety disorder? Or do certain factors have to come into play before a person can be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are feelings of worry, nervousness, and fear.  Some people are able to determine what triggers their anxiety while others may not be able to identify what triggers these feelings within them.

Anxiety disorders were first recognized in the 1980s by the American Psychiatric Association, prior to this recognition people who experienced symptoms were diagnosed with “stress” or “nerves”

We’ve all experienced mild forms of anxiety at some point in our lives, whether it was preparing for a presentation, interview or test or any other event where we may have felt nervous or frightened.  However, if the anxiety persists over long periods of time it could lead to interfering with a person’s overall well-being, in which case a person may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.



Panic and Anxiety Disorder – My Personal Experience   

What is Anxiety Disorder? Am I at Risk

In 2011, I was diagnosed with panic and anxiety disorder. The event occurring during that time was the breakdown of my marriage, but little did I know that experiencing the symptoms associated with that particular event, drudged up childhood experiences that I had and never quite worked through.

OH BOY, ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? NOW??? I can’t take on those unfinished emotions too.

It’s funny how in the midst of turmoil any feelings from previous experiences not dealt with pop up and all of a sudden, you’re dealing with those too, yikes!

You can read more about my childhood experiences which lead to the unfinished emotions that surfaced during this period of time by clicking here.

During the beginning stages of my diagnosis, I found myself avoiding places where I had an attack.  I found myself hesitant to leave my home by myself for fear of having a panic attack in a public place (as if worrying that I might die wasn’t scary enough, I worried that people would see me die in public).

About a month after my first experience with the onset of panic symptoms I starting to experience the symptoms of agoraphobia.

I remember going to my doctor and explaining how I was feeling and he immediately referred to me a therapist and prescribed me medication to help cope with the debilitating attacks that were impacting my life.  I remember asking my doctor if he thought it would be a good idea to take time off work, to which he replied “absolutely not”.

He explained that it was important that I continue to live my life as I had been, (going to work, dealing with the public, running my errands in public) and work through the psychological and physical symptoms that I was facing because it was imperative that I not let this illness take over my life.

I had to stay in control, I had to force myself out into those REALLY uncomfortable situations, knowing that a panic attack would strike and when it did, I needed to talk myself through it and cope with whatever came about.  I can honestly say that it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to encounter in my life.  But I did it and I’m so thankful for that.

Within 8 months, going to therapy, taking my medication and forcing myself to continue on with my life and work through those very challenging moments, I’m happy to say I haven’t had an attack in well over 4 years.

I owe a great deal to my therapist and family doctor (who has since retired), they knew exactly what I needed to do get back onto the path of wellness.


7 Types of Anxiety Disorders | Know the Symptoms

What is Anxiety Disorders? Could I be at Risk?


There are different types of anxiety disorders that can be diagnosed by a medical professional.  If you or someone you know are experiencing ongoing fear, nervousness, or worry it may be helpful to seek professional support as the symptoms could very well fall within one of these anxiety disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

If a person has experienced excessive worry or fear most days for a period of 6 months, they could very well be experiencing GAD and it may be time to talk with their doctor.   Fear and anxiety can cause significant problems at school, work and social interactions

Separation Anxiety Disorder

People who are suffering from this disorder fear being apart from those whom they are attached to.  They fear that something horrible will happen to them.  They tend to avoid being separated from their attachment figures.  They can often experience nightmares about being separated from their attachment and may experience physical symptoms if anticipating being separated


People who may have phobia disorder fear a specific object or situation.  Here are examples of phobias that can be experienced





Receiving injections

People who are suffering from a phobia tend to avoid these things for fear of extreme danger.  They may encounter intense anxiety upon encountering an object or situation.

Panic Disorder 

Sudden onset of extreme periods of fear that come on quickly and elevate within seconds or minutes.  Panic Attacks can come on unexpectedly by a trigger, such as feared object or situation.  People who suffer from this disorder often spend time worrying about when the next attack will come and often avoid situations or places where a previous attack occurred thinking it will avoid another occurrence.

Often people with panic disorder will develop symptoms of agoraphobia as they continue to avoid places or situations where previous attacks occurred.


If a person has two or more of the following occurrences then they may have agoraphobia

            Fear of leaving the home alone

          Fear of being in public places

           Fear of being in closed spaces

 Fear of being in a crowd

People avoid these types of occurrences for fear of panic-like symptoms occurring while in public.  In the most extreme cases of the disorder, some people can become housebound.


Social Anxiety

People who have an extreme fear of embarrassing or humiliating themselves in social settings may have social anxiety.  They fear being judged negatively and tend to avoid social situations.

Selective Mutism

This is a somewhat rare disorder where a person does not speak in specific social situations despite having normal language skills.   Onset usually occurs before the age of 5 and is attributed to extreme shyness, social embarrassment, withdrawal, clingy behavior, and compulsive traits.  Often people who are diagnosed with select mutism are diagnosed with other anxiety disorders as well.


Physical Symptoms of Anxiety – It’s More than Psychological

What are Anxiety Disorders? Could I be at Risk?

Muscle Tension

Aches and pain are often felt in the neck, shoulders, and jaw and can include fidgeting, restlessness, and grinding of the teeth.  If symptoms do not subside for a long period of time a person may need to talk to their doctor about medication that might help to relieve the pain.

Racing Heart

When our heart rate increases it can cause dizziness, short of breath, sweating and elevated blood pressure.  This symptom is often experienced by someone who is having a panic attack.


The psychological symptoms felt by anxiety such as constant worry, racing thoughts, and anticipated fear often results in headaches


Irritability, shaking and trembling can be a physical sign that can cause edginess. When a person is anxious these physical symptoms may be seen


When a person is chronically worrying it puts a strain on the entire body and can become exhausting.  This intern can result in poor sleep habits also contributing to exhaustion.  Bedtime routine may need to be adjusted to accommodate these feelings.


What are the Risk Factors of Anxiety Disorders? Am I at Risk?


What are Anxiety Disorders? Could I be at Risk?

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are 7 risk factors that can come into play that will determine if a person is at risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder

  • Hereditary – if a blood relative has suffered from an anxiety disorder your chances of also suffering from a disorder are increased.
  • Having an illness or condition – increased worry about a health condition or serious illness and your future can often lead to an anxiety disorder
  • Stress build-up – stressful life events, whether it be a death in the family, work stress or worrying about finances
  • Drugs or Alcohol – misuse or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety
  • Other Mental Health Disorders – if diagnosed with a mental health disorder your chances of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder is higher
  • Personality – People with certain personality traits, such as being a perfectionist, easily flustered, timid and lack self-esteem are more prone to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • Trauma – children who have witnessed or experienced trauma as a child are more likely to experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.  Adults who experience trauma are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder as well.

Treatment to Overcoming Psychological and Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

When dealing with any of the anxiety disorders previously mentioned in this article, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment in my opinion.  This talk therapy can assist an individual with reducing stress, coping and changing the thought process pattern of the individual.  The goal of CBT is to identify and correct negative thoughts and beliefs ultimately changing the way you think and feel.

It’s always important to consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms above for a prolonged period of time.  If symptoms begin to impact your well-being and affect your daily routine, medication may need to be introduced in conjunction with the therapy.

Natural Treatment  

Reduce anxiety au natural , by exercising, eating a proper diet, time managing tasks, using essential oils, massages, walking, spending time with animals and drinking herbal tea to name a few.

Meditation is another great natural treatment that is practiced by many to reduce anxiety and stress.  There is now a technology-enhanced meditation device, Muse, that has been created which translates your mental activity into the guiding sounds of weather to help you find calm and focus.  Your busy mind translates into sounds of stormy weather and a calm mind translates into sounds of peaceful weather.  This device actually measures your brain waves and allows you to find focus and reduce stress levels.  You can learn more by CLICKING HERE


There are also many supplement products on the market today to choose from that are intended to reduce anxiety symptoms, however, before choosing one you should research the ingredients and have a discussion with your doctor before deciding whether supplements are right for you.  Taking supplements with other medications for health purposes could counteract one another.


 Breaking Down Anxiety – Self Awareness is Key

What are Anxiety Disorders? Could I be at Risk?

We all suffer from minimal anxiety episodes at one time or another in our life but if the symptoms of anxiety are prolonged it may be time to speak to your doctor.  You could very well be dealing with an anxiety disorder and may require treatment.

Prolonged anxiety symptoms can interfere with a person’s overall well-being.

By being aware of the signs and symptoms of anxiety, we can seek out treatment sooner rather than later.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy could help a person in understanding what may be triggering the anxiety symptoms, if not already known by the individual.

Most important, develop a wellness plan that incorporates physical, emotional, social, occupational, environmental, spiritual and intellectual dimensions into it, click here for a more detailed outline of each wellness dimension.  Having awareness of these factors that contribute to anxiety and establishing a plan to maintain your overall well-being is the best approach.

Please leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve ever experienced anxiety or been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.  I’d love to hear about your experiences.

27 thoughts on “What Are Anxiety Disorders? Could I Be at Risk?”

  1. Hi, Tracy.

    Wow, you’ve explained this all so well. I just got shocked, because I never even thought about how many phobias I have, lol. I’m scared of heights (terribly), narrow passages/elevators, caves, etc (claustrophobia) and I get the creeps when I see spiders, too. I adore, however, frogs and I don’t have a problem with snakes at all, which so many other people do experience troubles with.

    My husband has an immense fear of blood and injections. He just needs to see a needle and almost passes out. I’m not kidding you! I tried to talk him into therapy, but he wouldn’t budge. He says “Nah, it’s nothing.” Well, he isn’t the one that needs to see him turning pale and almost fainting whenever a situation arises where blood or needles are involved.

    Do you happen to know of anything else but a therapy that could help and ease his phobias? I’ve got mine under control ever since I’ve beaten my panic disorder. I use meditation – but he thinks that’s all hogwash, too. not easy with him sometimes. Lol.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this wonderfully written post and all the great info you’ve shared with us.

    Many warm wishes, harmony, and blessings to you,


    • Hi Keryn

      Glad to hear you’ve managed to overcome your panic attacks, certainly can be a very scary and challenging time. My son too has an immense fear of injections, whenever it’s time for a vaccination he stresses on it for days, sometimes weeks in advance knowing that it was coming. It got to the point where I wouldn’t tell him about the appointment until a day or two before it was time to go. It affects him so much, he needs to take the day off of school and really gear up for the injection. In Canada we have what’s called Emlaw patches which can be purchased over the counter at the pharmacy, it’s a local anaesthetic numbing medication that can be placed on the area where the needle will be injected 20 minutes before, this helps to alleviate some of the anxiety he feels, however it doesn’t take away the psychological thoughts of danger and harm. He’s 15yrs old now and still has a phobia of needles and injections, whenever he’s due for a vaccine, he puts the emlaw patch on, listen’s to music (through his ear buds) during the entire process of the injection, the nurse is advised of his severe fears before we get there and what works best for him is no talking and for things to move very quickly once sitting in that chair.
      I would encourage anyone who is suffering from this particular phobia to practice breathing techniques, notify the medical professional of the severe fears before the appointment, look at pictures of needles, watch injections on t.v and alot of self talk to to work toward ovecoming this fear. It’s important to always put ourselves near our fears and not avoid them all together, overcoming phobia’s can be a long process and is usually accomplished through baby steps.

      I wish your husband all the best in working toward overcoming his phobia


  2. Great and moving post. I’m thankful you’re sharing your struggles with anxiety and how you coped with it. A few years ago I was diagnosed with ADHD, which comes with its own difficulties. I started getting anxiety at work because I was failing at certain projects and my bosses were growing increasingly impatient with me. Once I figured out what was going on I was able to fix it too.

    Your story is inspirational. Thanks for breaking down anxiety and how that can affect people in their lives. I learned a great deal from your post today.

    • Hi Bobby,
      I’m glad to hear that you were able to find coping strategies with your anxiety struggles, it certainly can be a very challenging time in our lives but once we establish a plan to cope and work toward getting back on track it can be manageable.

      I appreciate your comment on this topic.

      All the best to you,

  3. Hi, i’m Xavius. I totally agree with your post on Anxiety. I have PTSD, and coped with anxiety for most of my life. Self-Awareness is key, certain emotions can be overwhelming. Your post is very informational. Your theme has a balance that goes hand in hand with your topic of discussion. Nice image placement and amazing content. Good Job Tracy.

    • Hi Xavius,

      I’m glad you found the post informational. In my opinion, when we’ve experienced an anxiety disorder, it never really goes away, those feelings have been triggered within our bodies and coping strategies now need to be implemented that may involve medications to help us manage and continue to live our lives to the fullest. I’m self aware of my anxieties and what triggers them now (most of the time) and am able to pull out my coping strategies when needed. I’ve accepted the fact that panic/anxiety disorder is probably a life long disorder and that accepting that and sharing my experiences with others on their journey allows us all to know we’re not in this alone.

      I appreciate your feedback 🙂

      All the best

  4. As someone who was diagnosed with generalized anxiety among other illnesses, it can be hard not to let it consume your life. Medications help, but in the end, you need to push yourself a little every day to escape that demon or risk falling back again.

    • Hi Jordan

      You are so right, pushing ourselves through some days can be some of the most challenging tasks we’re ever faced with when anxieties are high. For me, I do a alot of self talk and focus on self care. When those challenging days arise and anxieties are high, as hard as it sometimes can be I push myself to do yoga, meditate and talk to those who I confide in. Medications do help, but I find that therapy also is beneficial periodically when needed. I hear what you’re saying about falling back into those thought patterns or feelings, as someone who has suffered panic disorder, it often crosses my mind ‘what if that panic returns’, that was one of the most scariest times in my life, I literally thought I was going to die during an attack and I would do anything not to have that feeling come back. I would recommend that you focus on self care always, when in a good frame of mind as well as when your emotionally unwell. For me, I ensure I get to a massage once a month, I spend time with friends and blog which is really helpful. When we’re good to ourselves and can balance the stress in our lives (and I know that this takes a great deal of work) I believe that it gives us the strength to get through those challenging days when they do arise. I will mention that since I have started to put myself first and care for me, my anxiety attacks have subsided substantially.

      I wish you all the best on your journey

      Thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂

  5. Thank you for including Selective Mutism in your list of anxiety disorders. It’s not a very well known disorder so the more awareness that is spread about it, the better. My daughter has Selective Mutism. Treatment has been hard to find due to the lack of education regarding this disorder, even among mental health professionals.
    Kudos to you for spreading awareness about Selective Mutism as well and many other anxiety disorders!

    • Hi Melissa

      You’re so right, this disorder isn’t talked about as often as it should. I’m going to be talking a little more on selective mutism in an upcoming post, stay tuned 😉

      All the best

  6. This is all spot on! After having my first child 15 years ago, something about that opened the flood gates to the anxiety I think was always inside of me. I too started to suffer from agoraphobia, and I remember crying on the phone with mom because I couldn’t go to the doctors appointment I had made to get the ball rolling on treatment options. It was such a catch 22 – I needed help because I couldn’t leave my house, but I needed to leave my house to get that help. I think anxiety disorders are a tough thing for “regular” people to understand, because they know how they feel when they get anxious, and expect that we should push through it just as easily. One of the many things that I dislike about anxiety is that if I have an everyday person worry or decline an invitation like many “normal” people do, it’s still attributed to my anxiety. Information and awareness need to be out there. Great information!

    • Hi Keah

      Thanks for the comment.
      I believe that we all have anxieties within us as you mentioned in your comment. We all experience a little fear, worry or anxiousness at some point in our lives. But when a traumatic event or situation occurs without warning it can trigger these increased symptoms that make it very difficult to manage (at least in my experience anyhow).
      I agree, information and awareness is key.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      All the best

  7. Thank you for this article, what do you do now, to help prevent a recurrence of the attacks you experienced? Do you worry that you could experience this again? Thanks, Kendra

    • Hi Kendra,

      I meditate and listen to spa music. I’ve also just discovered portable diffusers…. love them. Music, meditation, essential oils are what helps me to prevent an attack from coming on, slowing down my days and not rushing it away is crucial for me. I’m always worried about another attack creeping up on me, but if and when it does I’m going to use some self talk strategies and breathing techniques shown to me during my CBT sessions.

      Best wishes

  8. Hi Tracy,
    I have not had symptoms as severe as yours but I am afraid of heights and occasionally have mild anxiety. I do find meditation and exercise/wellness helps, specifically acupuncture. I like your site layout btw, very clean and calming.



    • Hi David

      Thank you for your feedback. I too find that as I’m getting older my fear of heights has heightened, I haven’t tried acupuncture but that sounds like something I might consider. For me meditation works wonders for anxiety symptoms I’ve mostly done guided meditation sessions.

      That’s great that you practice good self care habits to ensure your wellness, that’s so important.

      All the best to you


  9. Hi Tracy….
    Thank you for sharing this. Your words helped me to understand more about what I have been going through over the past several years. The death of my son in the Iraqi war in 2006 put my body and mind into shock. I started suffering from physical systems of anxiety, but i didn’t know what it was, until years later I had a breakdown at work where I got really anxious and nervous and felt like I was losing it. I saw a Dr. and they gave me a prescrip for Xanax but I didn’t want to take drugs so I did start therapy and that really helped along with using essential oils. More recently I started using CBD oil. The CBD, the therapy and the essential oil combined with my spiritual faith has helped me tremendously. I haven’t felt this good in a while.
    I was told it was brought on by the trauma of loosing my son. According to the 7 anxiety disorders, I think mine would be the first two.
    The information was very helpful to me. Again, thank you…

    • Hi Lynn

      My deepest condolences on the loss of your son, I couldn’t imagine what that must have been like for you. My heart goes out to you and your family.
      I’m glad you’ve found ways to help reduce and manage your anxieties, this is important.
      I find myself meditating, using essential oils and listening to spa music, something that I never would have thought I would see myself doing before I experienced my panic and anxiety disorder. I am curious about the CBD oil and am going to look into that a little more.

      I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you telling part of your story, your strength and courage is quite inspiring.

      I wish you and your family all the best


  10. Medications is always the way that people generalise to be the escape to getting away from anxiety disorder. Though I was diagnosed with general anxiety disorder but then, I didn’t give in to the pressure to rely on only drugs and medications. I sought other helps from motivations to yoga. Though sometimes I still have it but I have the mindset to relieve myself of it quickly. That disorder is a beast and must be put at bay.

    • Hi RoDarrick

      I agree, these disorders can be a “beast”.  The thing about anxiety is that there isn’t a cure for it, once they are triggered we are left to deal with the symptoms throughout our lives, at least in my opinion, I’m not a doctor but I can definitely speak to my experience.  That’s great that you’ve found natural strategies to help you copy with your symptoms.  I’ve found spa and nature sounds to be very helpful when when trying to relax.

      All the best to you on your journey


  11. Yes my mum had the Separation Anxiety Disorder. They said it was kind of rare and she had to meet up with a therapist. She got well after a while. I guess it was the behaviourist therapy. For me, I have a very funny phobia. My phobia is being scared of very tall objects. I get very panicked when I’m besides tall buildings so j tey as much as possible to stay clear from them. Sometimes I also try to talk myself out of it. This is a nicely written post.  Your story is inspiring too. I guess we need family with us at this kind of times too. Its really important.

    • Hi Henderson

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and comment.  Many people who suffer from anxiety do participate in CBT sessions (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) which is beneficial for many.  Phobia’s can be a very scary disorder, I would encourage you to continue to stand beside tall buildings, use your self talk and ensure yourself that nothing horrible is going to happen.  You may even benefit from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy yourself to help you get through some of what you are experiencing.  

      You can actually access therapy sessions online now, check out my post Online Counseling; Therapy for How We Live Today if this is of interest to you.  Many people are accessing services online rather than in offices these days.  

      I wish you great success on overcoming your phobia


  12. Hi thanks for sharing such an important and informative post about anxiety disorders with us. I have read your full article. By reading your post it is very clear to me that Anxiety disorders are feelings of worry, nervousness and fear. Our life is full of anxiety. It is really very harmful for all. Your research about anxiety disorders is really amazing. You also have shared the 7 Types of Anxiety Disorders and how to treatment for this. 

    Thanks again. I’ll definitely share this important post with my friends and family so that they also can get the information. 

    • Hi Monalisha

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post and provide some feedback.  I’m glad that you have a better understanding about anxiety.  Anxiety is experienced by a large part of society and it can be manged by learning coping strategies to help reduce the symptoms.  While symptoms can be very scary and uncomfortable for many, once grasping a better understanding about the disorder people can live a normal life.  Some people may have to resort to medication while others are able to cope using natural strategies but once someone discovers what works for them, they are able to live their best life.

      All the best 


  13. Hi,  I once had a moment where I got so stressed – several things were happening at the same time – that I could not breathe. I inhaled and inhaled deeper and simply couldn’t catch my breath. That was the only time it happened, and it made me think …

    A few years ago I went through burn out which affected my mental state badly … It was a hard thing to go through, and it’s something many people have no understanding for. I lost people I had considered friends because of it. 

    I have long healed, and when I feel overwhelmed or stressed I do a breathing exercise, I also meditate, go to the beach (the beach brings me peace) or I go for a walk with my dogs. Hugging my dogs also works miracles.

    • Hi Christine, 

      I totally hear you when you say some people just don’t understand so they tend to pull away which is so unfortunate, you learn very quickly who your true friends are when going through something like that.  I was so very lucky to have two of my very best friends help me through my horrible time with anxiety and panic and without their love and support I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.  I am so very thankful for them both.  

      I agree that pets can help decrease anxiety symptoms.  I have two cats, Maisy and Snoop, and whenever they’re in my lap (which they always are, they’re total sucks lol) my anxiety symptoms seem to subside, it’s a wonderful feeling.   

      I hope that you too are past the worst part of your anxiety and have learned coping strategies that will help you live your best life.  

      All the best 


  14. I really enjoyed this article. I have an ex that battles anxiety and it was very stressful on me. So reading this was very interesting.

    There was really so much I had no idea about. Wow. Thanks. Very interesting read!


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