Mental Health Awareness: Anxiety Disorders

In the third installment of our Mental Health Awareness series, we will take a look at anxiety disorders. Anxietyopens a new window, as a mental health diagnosis, is complicated because everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another. Anxiety is the body's natural reaction to stress. We all experience stress about what will happen in the future. But anxiety becomes a disorder when it begins to affect your day-to-day life. 

To learn more about the difference between everyday anxiety and an anxiety disorder, look at this chart, created by the Anxiety and Depression Association of Americaopens a new window, reproduced here:

Everyday Anxiety Anxiety Disorder
  • Worry about paying bills, landing a job, a romantic breakup, or other important life events
  • Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant distress and interferes with everyday life
  • Embarrassment or self-consciousness in an uncomfortable or awkward social situation
  • Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated
  • A case of nerves or sweating before a big test, business presentation, stage performance, or other significant event
  • Seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and the preoccupation with the fear of having another one
  • Realistic fear of a dangerous object, place, or situation
  • Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, or situation that poses little or no threat of danger
  • Anxiety, sadness, or difficulty sleeping immediately after a traumatic event
  • Recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before

In general, the term "anxiety disorder" encompasses several disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorderopens a new window (GAD), Obsessive-compulsive Disorderopens a new window (OCD), Panic Disorderopens a new window, Phobiasopens a new window, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorderopens a new window (PTSD), and Social Anxiety Disorderopens a new window. In later installments of this Mental Health Awareness series, we will discuss Obsessive-Compulsive Disorderopens a new window and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorderopens a new window separately.

If you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you are not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illnessopens a new window, an estimated 40 million adults in the U.S. (18%) have an anxiety disorder. 

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has a helpful list of things to do to manage anxiety hereopens a new window.

If you or someone you know is experiencing an unbearable level of anxiety, there are people who care and want to help. Call 1-800-273-TALK or Text MHA to 741741. 

Please note: this discussion of anxiety and anxiety disorders is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to take the place of a visit to and advice from a health-care professional.

We have compiled a list of St. Tammany Parish Library materials and external websites that may be helpful for those of us who are experiencing an anxiety disorder:

Anxiety Disorders

"Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening." - National Alliance on Mental Illness

"Weaving together cutting-edge science, concrete tips, and the compelling stories of real people who have risen above their social anxiety, Dr. Ellen Hendriksen proposes a groundbreaking idea: you already have everything you need to succeed in any unfamiliar social situation. Dr. Hendriksen takes the reader through the roots of social anxiety and why it endures, how we can rewire our brains through our behavior, and - at long last - exactly how to quiet your Inner Critic."

"Dr. Wehrenberg draws on fresh insights into the anatomy of the anxious brain to get to the bottom of the problem and offer readers practical, effective tips to manage their anxiety on a day-to-day basis. From diaphragmatic breathing and self-talk, to mindfulness, muscle relaxation, and 'plan to panic' strategies, you can learn to train your brain, conquer your stress and anxiety, and regain control of your life."

"Challenges cultural beliefs about anxiety from the perspectives of medical and spiritual leaders to explore how the condition needs to be viewed less as a burdensome affliction and more as a source of divine growth."

"Have you ever felt nervous in new situations? Reluctant to introduce yourself? Afraid to ask questions? We all have. But if you let those worries stop you, you may miss out on real opportunity. Whether you're changing jobs, joining a group, or moving to a new city, putting yourself out there enriches life and brings rewards. 'What to Do When You're New' combines the author's research with that of leading scientists to explain why we are so uneasy in new situations-and how we can learn to become more confident and successful newcomers."

"Based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), this book helps you identify . . . the primitive part of the brain where anxious thoughts arise. You'll also be able to determine if you suffer from generalized anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, panic and agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or separation anxiety. Full of powerful yet simple cartoon illustrations, this book will teach you practical strategies for handling even the toughest situations that previously caused you to feel anxious or worried. "

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