Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent mental health concerns in the United States and throughout the rest of the world. Millions of children, adolescents, and adults struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders.
Untreated anxiety disorders can be sources of significant anguish as well as impaired functioning. But when a person receives anxiety disorder treatment at CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia, they can experience relief from the symptoms that have disrupted their life. With proper care, people who have anxiety disorders can achieve improved health and enjoy a better quality of life.
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
The signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders can vary considerably depending on which disorder a person has developed. The following are examples of symptoms of seven common anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – People who have GAD will worry excessively about a variety of events or topics. Other symptoms of GAD include restlessness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle tension, and disrupted sleep patterns.
- Specific phobia – The symptoms of specific phobia include acute apprehension related to a certain object or situation. Common examples of specific phobia include overwhelming fear of certain animals, flying in an airplane, or receiving an injection. This fear will be consistent, disproportionate, and highly distressing.
- Separation anxiety disorder – This type of anxiety disorder can cause a person to dread being away from a certain person due to unfounded fears that something horrible will happen to the other person. A person who has separation anxiety may refuse to attend school, go to work, or leave the house for any other reason without the person to whom they have become attached.
- Selective mutism – The main symptom of selective mutism is a failure to speak in specific situations, even though the person will talk in other circumstances. This type of anxiety disorder typically affects children. A child who has selective mutism might refuse to speak in school or in the presence of certain people, yet they may have no problem expressing themselves at home among close relatives and trusted friends.
- Social anxiety disorder – This disorder is also referred to as social phobia. Social anxiety disorder is characterized by intense worry about situations where a person may be scrutinized or judged by others. People who have social anxiety disorder may fear that experiences such as making a presentation, eating in a restaurant, or meeting new people will result in humiliation and rejection.
- Agoraphobia – People who have this type of anxiety will have disproportionate fear or worry about at least two of the following circumstances: using public transportation, being in open spaces such as parking lots, being in enclosed spaces such as stores or theaters, being among a crowd, or leaving their home by themselves.
- Panic disorder – People who have this disorder will experience recurring panic attacks. Symptoms of panic attacks can include sudden surges of fear or severe discomfort, racing heart rate, heavy perspiration, the sensation of being choked or smothered, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, chills or hot flashes, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, trembling, depersonalization, and a belief that death may be imminent.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders can cause considerable emotional pain. They can also prompt people to change their behaviors and refuse to participate in certain types of events and activities. This can undermine the person’s ability to live a full and satisfying life.
Potential Effects of Untreated Anxiety Disorders
Untreated anxiety can negatively impact all aspects of a person’s life. Here are some of the potential effects of untreated anxiety disorders:
- Frequent absenteeism from school or work
- Academic failure or expulsion
- Job loss and long-term unemployment
- Financial difficulties
- Forced reliance on others
- Strained relationships with family, friends, and peers
- Development or worsening of co-occurring mental health disorders
- Substance abuse and addiction
- Withdrawal and isolation
The following anxiety statistics are from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
- The lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders among adults age 18 and older in the United States is 31.1%.
- About 19.1% of adults had symptoms of an anxiety disorder in the past year.
- The past-year prevalence of anxiety disorders is 23.4% for adult women and 14.3% for adult men.
- About 22.8% of adults who had an anxiety disorder in the past year experienced severe impairment as rated on the Sheehan Disability Scale.
- About 33.7% of adults who had anxiety disorders had moderate impairment, and about 43.5% had mild impairment.
- Experts estimate that 31.9% of adolescents ages 13-17 will develop an anxiety disorder.
- Anxiety disorders affect about 38% of adolescent girls and about 26.1% of adolescent boys.
In 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that about 243 million adults and 58 million children and adolescents across the globe were living with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety Disorder Causes & Risk Factors
The likelihood that someone will develop an anxiety disorder may be influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, including the following:
- Stressful life experiences such as the death of a loved one or pet or the development of a serious illness
- Genetic variations
- Temperamental traits such as neuroticism or behavioral inhibition
- Parental history of anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, or bipolar disorder
- Parental overprotectiveness
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, assault, neglect, or loss of a parent
Levels of Care for Anxiety Treatment
CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia offers the following options for people who need treatment for an anxiety disorder:
- Inpatient treatment – We provide inpatient anxiety treatment in age-appropriate units for children, adolescents, adults, and senior adults. Typical length of stay at the inpatient level is seven to 14 days depending on the patient’s age, progress, and continued needs. Inpatient treatment for anxiety at our hospital includes structured daily schedules, several forms of therapy, nutritious meals, and comfortable rooms.
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP) – Our IOP serves adolescents and adults. At this level, patients take part in anxiety treatment sessions three days a week, three hours per day. Group therapy is the main form of care in our IOP, with family therapy available on an as-needed basis. Patients typically remain in our IOP for four to six weeks. They may step down to our IOP after completing inpatient treatment for anxiety, or they may enter treatment directly at the IOP level.
- Traditional outpatient services – At the traditional outpatient level, patients attend individual anxiety treatment sessions with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner. Sessions can be scheduled at the frequency that is best for each patient. Some people transition to this level of care after completing treatment for anxiety at the inpatient or IOP level. Others enter treatment at our hospital at the traditional outpatient level.
Our anxiety treatment services also include personalized care for adults whose struggles with anxiety are accompanied by a co-occurring substance use disorder.
Types of Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
Types of Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
There is no single perfect form of anxiety disorder treatment. What’s most important is identifying the therapies and services that can best meet each person’s specific needs. Depending on a variety of factors, treatment for anxiety disorders at our hospital may include elements such as the following:
- Basic medical care
- Medication management services
- Individual, group, and family therapies
- Experiential therapies
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Motivational interviewing
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Adults who have a co-occurring substance use disorder may also have detoxification and 12-Step support incorporated into their treatment plan.
Please note that every patient may not receive every type of service we offer at CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia. The elements of care we include in each person’s customized anxiety disorder treatment plan can vary according to the patient’s age, their level of care, what type of anxiety disorder they have developed, and several other individual factors.
Benefits of Anxiety Treatment
The following are examples of the benefits of choosing to receive anxiety treatment at CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia:
- Safe and welcoming environment – Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our patients, staff, and visitors. While you are receiving treatment at our hospital, you will be in a safe place under the care of a team of dedicated professionals. Our team also works diligently to ensure that CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia remains a supportive and welcoming environment for all.
- Multidisciplinary treatment team – Depending on what is included in your personalized anxiety treatment plan, your care may be provided by psychiatrists, a nurse practitioner, licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs), licensed professional counselors (LPCs), activity therapists, mental health technicians, dietitians, and other professionals. Our staff includes psychiatrists who specialize in pediatric, adult, and geriatric psychiatry.
- Customized care – At CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia, we are committed to providing each patient with a truly personalized treatment experience. Before you begin to receive treatment for anxiety at our hospital, we will thoroughly review your history and assess your needs. This can allow us to determine what level or levels of care are right for you, as well as which therapies and support services will be most beneficial.
- Discharge planning – Even if you receive anxiety treatment at all three levels of care we offer, your time at our hospital will be just one small part of your journey toward improved health. To prepare you to continue your progress after you transition out of our care, we will provide you with a detailed discharge plan. This plan can identify resources and support services that may be valuable to you in the months and years to come.
This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at CenterPointe Hospital of Columbia.