Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues in America. They can cause both an emotional and physical reaction. Psychological symptoms are unexplained or unreasonable feelings of fear and obsessive or negative thoughts. A large, national survey of adolescent mental health reported around eight percent of teens ages 13-18 have an anxiety disorder, with symptoms commonly emerging around age 6.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
People who experience this type of anxiety need approval and reassurances, may be particularly hard on themselves and become perfectionists. Some common symptoms include complaints of fatigue, tension, headaches and nausea.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
Normally, a very young child will experience a period of distress when a parent leaves, but a child with this disorder experiences extreme anxiety and cannot be distracted or engaged in activities for a significant period of time. Often they will fear something like an injury, disaster or death will happen to their loved ones while they are separated, or they worry something disastrous with happen to themselves.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, produces an extreme fear of being humiliated or embarrassed in front of other people. It is much more than shyness. It can produce uncontrollable, extreme and negative reactions to social situations and can result in isolation, depression or substance abuse. They may experience extreme fear at the thought of using a public restroom, speaking in public, eating in a restaurant or dating. They feel as if everyone is watching them and have fears about doing or saying something stupid. They may see every small mistake as a major issue.
- Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is characterized by “panic attacks” that cause dramatic physical symptoms like chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or stomach distress. People will try to avoid situations if they fear a panic attack will happen and this may interfere with school, home and social relationships.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Not performing “rituals” markedly increases anxiety. Some common obsessions are fear of contamination or a serious illness, fixation on lucky/unlucky numbers, fear of danger to self and others, need for symmetry or exactness, and excessive doubt. People with OCD may involve family by insisting their laundry be washed multiple times, demanding parents check their homework repeatedly, or become outraged if household items are in disarray.
(Sources: NAMI.org; NIMH.org)