Anxiety disorders affect millions of people - some estimates put the number as high as 18% of the population in the United States alone, and according to NIMH, nearly 1/4th of all of those individuals have anxiety that can best be classified as "severe".
Severe anxiety disorders don't have a technical definition, but generally they're thought of as anxiety that is nearly impossible to live with.
How Does Your Anxiety Compare to Others?
I developed a free anxiety test that will look at your symptoms and their severity and compare it to others that are also suffering from anxiety. It will take you about 7 minutes or less.
Suffering From Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is an incredibly stressful, but arguably manageable disorder. Many people still work, spend time with friends, and hold onto relationships while living with anxiety. But others are more affected by it, and some struggle to go through each and every day.
If it's your first time visiting the site or you haven't yet taken it, take my free 7 minute anxiety test. It will give you an idea of the severity of your anxiety by comparing it to others, along with information about what you're suffering from and the next steps in treatment.
The best way to characterize a severe anxiety disorder is one that is disabling. For example:
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia Agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors or in unfamiliar places. Panic disorder is generally characterized as with or without agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be disabling on their own, and some people may have severe panic attacks that end up with hospitalization, but when agoraphobia is involved they're often even worse.
- Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Some people also suffer from severe OCD. These people may have so many compulsions or obsessions that they're unable to function in life as a result of spending most of their time consumed by their disorder.
All anxiety disorders may be characterized as more severe than others. From severe generalized anxiety disorders, severe social phobia, severe PTSD, and more, there are plenty of people suffering from very serious levels of anxiety.
All Anxiety is Serious Anxiety
Once you've taken my 7 minute anxiety test you may find that your anxiety isn't as "severe" as others. But in many ways all anxiety is severe, because all anxiety causes several issues that affect your life now and later:
- Quality of Life Your quality of life is always important. Every day you're living with anxiety is a day that you're experiencing less happiness. Anxiety may affect your focus, your ability to have adventures, and more.
- Stress Anxiety is also long term stress, and long term stress can be very dangerous. It can damage your organs, weaken your immune system, reduce your memory, and possibly cause you to age more quickly.
Also, if left untreated, anxiety may become worse. Whether you already have severe anxiety or you have daily anxiety that simply makes your life worse, all anxiety is relevant and damaging.
How to Stop Severe Anxiety Disorders
Those with severe anxiety need to seek out treatment today. Every day you wait only reinforces the anxiety. Luckily, because anxiety affects so many people, there are several treatment options available.
- Medications - Several medications are beneficial for anxiety. Medications are generally discouraged because of the side effects and personality changes they can cause, and medications _cannot_ be your only treatment, but drugs like Xanax and BuSpar are still popular choices.
- Herbs - Herbal solutions like Kava and Passionflower may also be useful. Both have shown success in relieving anxiety, especially in moderate cases. They're a little less beneficial for severe anxiety, but they may be useful as a supplementary treatment. Remember, however - just because they're herbs doesn't mean they're 100% safe. They may interact with other herbs or drugs.
- Exercise - Exercise is also crucial. It's not just for your physical health - a great deal of anxiety is caused by inactivity, and exercise is a known stress reliever. If you're not yet, you should be exercising today.
Other anxiety reduction strategies like relaxation exercises (deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation) and meditation are generally much less effective for severe anxiety, because the severity makes spending time on those activities harder. They may be useful in combination with other techniques, but should not be used alone.
You can also seek out therapy, or look at home personal treatments that have shown success. It's best not to depend on drugs alone, as you need to learn better coping strategies to deal with anxiety, not just something to mask it.
I've helped hundreds of people with severe anxiety disorders in the past, and I tell them all they need to start with the free 7 minute anxiety test I developed. It will help you:
- Compare your anxiety to others.
- See the effects of your symptoms.
- Get an idea of the anxiety disorder(s) that affect you.
You'll also receive treatment tips based on your anxiety scores. If you haven't yet, take the test now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.