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Is anxiety disorder a mental illness?


Trying to cope with stress is a daily struggle for many people in the Houston area. Between dealing with work responsibilities, keeping up with ordinary household bills and tending to any other obligations, it can be easy for anybody to feel overloaded from time to time. However, there is a big difference between this kind of routine stress that comes and goes, and the profound anxiety that certain other people experience.

Although some people may go through extreme and seemingly never-ending bouts of anxiety and stress, is this really a mental illness? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, persistent and even worsening levels of anxiety are the hallmarks of anxiety disorder. Moreover, the Social Security Administration classifies certain anxiety disorders as mental illnesses that can qualify a person for a mental disability claim.

If a person experiences repeated panic attacks or relentless anxiety that lasts six months or more, he or she should seek a medical evaluation. This kind of severe anxiety can impact people's lives to the point where they cannot function normally and meet their daily responsibilities. Because anxiety disorder can render a person incapable of holding down a job, Social Security Disability Insurance benefits may be available to help people in this situation.

While an anxiety disorder can greatly impact a person's life, the good news is that treatment is available. Doctors can diagnose these disorders and prescribe medication, along with mental and behavioral therapy to help a person who has an anxiety disorder.

When people are unable to work and support themselves due to an anxiety disorder, they should understand their options for getting medical and financial help. The long-term goal should always be for the disabled to get back to a point where they can live a normal life and once again take care of themselves and others. In the meantime, however, people suffering from mental illnesses, like anxiety disorders, should not be afraid to ask for help.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health, "What are Anxiety Disorders?," Accessed on Oct. 2, 2015

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