There are many people who suffer from “nerves”, and I hope that you will be one of those who find a way to overcome your worry.
People with anxiety are not alone
Those who have worry related problems often feel that they are alone with this problem. However, unfortunately, nervousness and worry is an extremely common problem throughout the world. In the US the National Institute of mental health (NIMH) ranks anxiety disorders as the most common mental health problem in the United States. The NIMH has found that at least 19 million adults suffer from nervousness-related problems in the United States. In the United Kingdom the Mental Health Foundation has estimated that about 10% of people are likely to have a “disabling anxiety disorder” at some time in their life.
Children and adolescents also suffer from anxiety related problems, but reliable figures for the number of children and adolescents suffering from “nerves” are harder to come by.
Nervous conditions also frequently develop with other issues and mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders and substance abuse.
There are seven types of anxiety disorder:
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Specific Phobias
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has published statistics which show that specific phobias are the most common type of nervous disorder in America. One set of statistics that they produced showed that specific phobias affected about 4.4% of the population in one year in the US.
In the United Kingdom a medical study, which was carried out in the year 2000, by the Office for National Statistics found that specific phobias are less common in the UK. They found that specific phobias affected approximately 1% of men and 2% of women in the UK.
In the United Kingdom the most common mental health problem is mixed anxiety and depressive disorder which has been estimated to affect about 7% of men and 11% of women.
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) is less common and in the United Kingdom has been estimated to affect about 4% of men and 5% of women. In the United States it has been estimated that GAD affects about 2.5 to 3% of adult Americans.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) it is thought to affect approximately 1% of men and 1% of women in the United Kingdom and approximately 2 to 2.5% of Americans.
With regards to panic disorder, in the United Kingdom about 1% of men and women are affected and in the United States the percentage suffering from panic disorder is estimated to be about 1.7%.
There have been many improvements in the treatment of anxiety disorders over the last 20 to 30 years. It is reassuring to find that most of those who work within the nursing and medical profession are now much more familiar with the different types of nervous disorders that occur and ways to treat them.
It is now possible to treat “nerves” successfully. Because of this, far more who suffer from “nerves” have now been diagnosed, and will have received some form of treatment for their nervous disorder.
If you feel that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder it is important to seek medical attention and treatment. I would urge you to consult your family doctor or GP in the first instance. Your family doctor will be able to refer you, if necessary, to the appropriate specialist for treatment.
A bit about anxiety and fear
Fear and anxiety are extremely normal responses to a perceived threat. Anxiety is usually triggered by a vague or ill defined threat, whereas fear is usually treated by a well-defined specific threat such as a wild animal such as a lion or tiger.
Both fear and anxiety result in unpleasant mental sensations and symptoms such as: worry, apprehension, a sense of helplessness, confusion and repeated negative thoughts.
Both fear and anxiety also trigger physical symptoms which can vary from symptoms such as simple muscle tension to a severely pounding and palpitating heart. The full range of possible physical symptoms is listed below in the section on panic attacks.
A little about panic attacks
A panic attack is described as an intense state of fear that occurs for no apparent reason and is characterised by at least four or more of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations (awareness of heart beating) or accelerated heart rate.
- Shortness of breath (dyspnoea) or smothering sensations
- Dizziness, faintness or unsteady feelings
- Shaking or trembling
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Fear of becoming seriously ill or dying
- Fear of going crazy or doing something out of control
- Numbness or tingling sensations (paraesthesiae), usually in the lips, fingers or toes
- Abdominal distress or nausea
- Feelings of unreality (derealisation or depersonalisation)
An attack with less than four of the above symptoms is called a ” limited symptom panic attack”.
Panic attacks can build up gradually over a period of several minutes or hours, or they may strike very rapidly in seconds. Whilst panic attacks can last for periods of time lasting from a few minutes to several days, most do not last longer than half an hour.
If anxiety or panic is felt regardless of where one is then it is known by psychiatrists and psychologists as “spontaneous anxiety” or “spontaneous panic”, depending upon the degree of intensity of the anxiety.
If the anxiety or panic occurs only in certain situations, then psychiatrists and psychologists refer to it as “situational anxiety” or “phobic anxiety” or “panic”. If panic or anxiety is triggered simply by thinking about a particular situation then it is known as “anticipatory panic” or “anticipatory anxiety”.
Fortunately, there are many ways to cure and treat “nerves” successfully.