Anxiety in Adults

Living with Anxiety

The most common of mental health disorders, anxiety symptoms can interfere with your daily life. If excessive stress, panic, anxiety, or fear are causing panic attacks, the expert providers at Rochester Regional Health’s Adult Behavioral Health Program can help. Medications, therapy, and attentive care can provide immense and lasting relief, allowing you to lead a productive, fulfilling life. 

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What is Anxiety?

As a normal reaction to stress that can be beneficial in some situations, anxiety can alert us to dangers and prepare us to pay attention. Different from normal feelings of anxiousness or nervousness, anxiety disorders involve excessive anxiety or fear. They are the most common mental disorder, affecting nearly 30% of all adults during their lives. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and the highly-effective treatments help most people lead healthy, satisfying lives.

There is any number of factors that can combine to cause anxiety disorders in adults. The main causes are typically environmental, developmental, psychological, or genetic.

Some families experience a high number of anxiety disorders, and some traumatic experiences can result in anxiety disorders. Triggers from traumatic events can cause symptoms to appear or reappear.

Symptoms of Anxiety 

Anxiety disorders can cause people to avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. Performance at jobs and school, as well as personal relationships, can be negatively affected by anxiety disorders. For a person to be diagnosed, their fear or anxiety must be out of proportion to the situation, be age-inappropriate, and/or hinder their ability to function normally.

Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Cold or sweaty hands
  • Dry mouth
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Shortness of breath

Their mental symptoms may include:

  • Nightmares
  • Panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Repeated thoughts or flashbacks to traumatic experiences
  • Uncontrollable and obsessive thoughts

Their behavioral symptoms may include:

  • The inability to be calm and still
  • Ritualistic behaviors
  • Trouble sleeping

Your Rochester Regional Health Mental Health provider will diagnose your anxiety disorder after completing a thorough medical history and physical examination. Lab tests and scans cannot diagnose anxiety disorders, but your provider may run them to rule out any physical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

Anxiety Disorder Types

Anxiety is normal and healthy–it’s your brain’s way of alerting you to potential danger and reacting to stress. All of us experience anxious feelings sometimes, and occasional anxiety is perfectly normal.

Anxiety disorders are different from occasional anxiety. These mental health illnesses cause constant, overwhelming anxiety and fear that can be debilitating.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Those with generalized anxiety disorder have an excessive and persistent worry that interferes with their daily activities.

Physical symptoms, like restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, problems sleeping, and feeling “on edge,” can accompany the constant worry and tension. For many, their worries focus on everyday things like family, health, job responsibilities, chores, or appointments.

The providers at Rochester Regional Health’s Adult Mental Health Program use evidence-based interventions to reduce symptoms and improve functioning.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by repeated panic attacks–an overwhelming combination of psychological and physical distress. The mean age for panic disorder onset is 20-24 years old. 

 When experiencing a panic attack, these symptoms occur in combination:

  • Chest pain
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Feeling detached
  • Feeling dizzy, faint, or light-headed
  • Feeling like you’re choking
  • Nausea or abdominal pains
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Pounding heart, rapid heart rate, or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking 

These severe symptoms are often mistaken for a heart attack, and people often go to the emergency room when experiencing a panic attack, believing they are experiencing a life-threatening illness. Panic attacks can occur in conjunction with other mental disorders like PTSD or depression.


Agoraphobia is a fear of being in positions or situations where escape may be embarrassing or difficult, or help might not be available/possible in the event of panic symptoms. This fear is out of proportion to the situation at hand, and typically lasts six months or more. Agoraphobia causes problems with daily functioning.

A person with agoraphobia may have fear in the following situations:

  • Being in enclosed places
  • Being in open spaces
  • Being outside their home alone
  • Standing in line or being in a crowded area
  • Using public transportation

Those with agoraphobia will actively avoid situations like the above, require a companion, or endures situations with intense anxiety or fear. When agoraphobia goes untreated, it can become so serious that they may be unable to leave their home. A person will only be diagnosed if the fear is intensely upsetting or significantly interferes with their normal activities of daily living.


Those with phobias–or a specific phobia (an excessive and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity that is not usually harmful)–know that their fear is excessive, but cannot overcome it. The fear may cause such distress that people go to extreme lengths to avoid whatever they fear.

Examples of phobias include the fear of flying, the fear of spiders, and the fear of public speaking.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Those with social anxiety disorder have significant anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, looked down upon, or rejected during social interactions. People with a social anxiety disorder will try to avoid being in social situations or will endure them with extreme anxiety.

Common examples of a social anxiety disorder include eating/drinking in public, meeting new people, and the extreme fear of public speaking. Their fear or anxiety can cause problems with daily functioning and typically lasts for at least six months.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

People with separation anxiety are excessively anxious or fearful about separation from those with whom they are attached. This feeling goes beyond what is appropriate for their age and causes problems functioning.

A person with a separation anxiety disorder may be constantly worried about losing the person closest to them, may have nightmares about separation, and be reluctant to be away from that person. Physical distress symptoms often develop in children, but symptoms can carry on through adulthood.

Anxiety Diagnosis and Treatment

The mental health providers at Rochester Regional Health are specially trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. Their compassionate, thorough care will begin with an evaluation that allows us to get to know you better before we go any further. 

We specialize in person-centered care, putting you in the driver’s seat. The personalized care offers the opportunity to carefully craft treatment plans that work for your individual anxiety disorder, as well as your life.


Throughout our adult mental health programs, we utilize evidence-based practices, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment, and an environmental approach to ensure we are offering the most well-rounded and thorough care possible.

Cognitive behavior therapy is a type of talk therapy that can help someone learn a new way of thinking, which can help them react and behave differently when faced with anxiety. 


Medication will not cure anxiety disorders, but it can provide relief from symptoms. Most commonly prescribed are anti-anxiety medications (usually short-term prescriptions) and antidepressants. Beta-blockers, also used for heart conditions, are sometimes also used to control physical symptoms of anxiety.

female doctor illustration

Don’t Struggle on Your Own

If you are ready to take control of your mental health, find an ally, advocate, and trained professional to help, look no further. The mental health providers at Rochester Regional Health prioritize evidence-based treatments and will be by your side throughout your journey.
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