If the feeling of anxiety and distress has lasted over six months, it may be considered a mental disorder. With generalised anxiety disorder, the anxiety is not triggered by a specific situation, as is the case with social phobias, nor does it come in attacks, as with panic disorder. Generalised anxiety disorder often involves problems with concentration and sleep, fatigue and inability to relax.
The anxiety often appears as excessive and constant worry over finances or health, for instance. Other concerns can control the thoughts of the individual and restrict their life, as well. Phobic anxiety disorders often involve somatic, i.e. physical symptoms such as headache, stomach ache, lump-in-the-throat kind of sensations or muscle tension. Sometimes it is the physical symptoms that make the person suffering from phobic anxiety disorder to seek medical help.
It often takes time to diagnose generalised anxiety disorder but efficient treatment is available
People often see a reason behind their own anxiety, such as work pressures, relationship problems or living under constant stress over some other reason. If they are able to specify the reason for their anxiety, it may make them feel slightly better. In addition, it is probably easier to lose the feelings of anxiety if the person can do something about the reasons behind the feelings.
When the anxiety is diagnosed as a mental disorder, the reasons behind the disorder are more vague and harder to identify for persons suffering from anxiety. They may not even realise their symptoms are caused by the disorder; instead, they may think the symptoms are sign of a serious illness, such as cancer.
Earlier experiences in life, all its losses and fears, may have an effect on anxiety. Anxiety may begin to feel like being on standby: they will constantly observe their surroundings and themselves, fearing something bad will happen.
Therefore, people suffering from phobic anxiety disorders may not seek treatment speficially for anxiety but their symptoms often force them to otherwise seek medical help. Psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs provide an efficient treatment method for phobic anxiety disorders. Psychotherapy may be used to try to determine the reasons for the anxiety and to find ways to overcome the anxious feelings. Sometimes anxiety precedes depression; therefore seeking help for anxiety in time may prevent depression from developing.