Anxiety affects 18.1% of the adult population in the United States, but studies show as few as 36.9% of these people will get treatment for anxiety. One cause for this may be lack of knowledge about anxiety conditions. The stigma that can come with seeking help for mental health could also add to this gap. Case examples of anxiety may help people identify their own symptoms and increase their awareness of their own well-being; this can motivate people to seek help for anxiety that's causing trouble in day-to-day life.
Anxiety can come in many forms and manifest in different ways. It can be helpful to understand how anxiety may affect you. Examples of different kinds of anxiety can facilitate this process. Case examples can show how diverse the symptoms of anxiety can be and how anxiety can appear differently from person to person. Various dispositions and backgrounds may change how anxiety impacts someone.
People also handle their anxiety differently. People may develop harmful coping mechanisms because of their anxiety, for example. These coping mechanisms often tend to exacerbate anxiety in the long run.
These examples can help you identify what kind of anxiety you might have and help you learn what you can do to address it. If you think you experience anxiety in any form, know that support is available. Reach out to a trained and compassionate therapist near you.
Case Examples of Anxiety
- Alcohol Abuse and Anxiety: Hayat, 23, experiences severe panic attacks. These occur when she feels she has failed at a task or made someone angry. Sometimes they happen when she receives criticism. She begins to have trouble breathing, becomes sweaty, and may break out in hives. Her mind becomes completely focused on the offense she has committed. She may cry, though she suppresses the tears and prevents catharsis. She drinks large quantities of alcohol to help numb herself to these feelings. Sometimes she misses work for days. This furthers her anxiety, as she has little income. She begins seeking treatment for alcohol addiction. Her therapist notices that anxiety seems to be the deeper issue. In therapy, Hayat learns healthier ways to cope with her anxiety.
- Social Anxiety: Benji, 45, is popular at work and very competent. But he feels highly anxious whenever he is out in public. He is especially anxious around crowds. He races home each night, locks his door, and reads in bed. Once he is alone with the apartment, he feels secure. He cannot identify the cause of his anxiety. But in therapy, he discovers a great deal of repressed anger. This begins to explain his fear of being in public. People trigger his rage, which he has avoided for years.
- "People-Pleasing” Anxiety: Anna, 26, comes to therapy because of intense anxiety. Anna has not experienced a panic attack. But she is often on edge, worried, stressed, and has trouble sleeping through the night. Anna begins attending therapy. She discovers that she has suppressed some important feelings. Although part of her wants to marry her fiancé, another part of herself is not in love with him. Finding this internal conflict at first intensifies Anna's anxiety. She now has to face something she hasn't wanted face. Historically, Anna has been a people-pleaser. It's difficult for her to say "no" for fear of hurting others' feelings and then feeling her own guilt. Anna gains awareness about this. She begins unburdening her long-harbored guilt. Anna starts feeling less anxiety over allowing others to feel pain. Anna hasn't yet decided what she's going to do about getting married. But she now feels less anxiety, as she is no longer suppressing her ambivalence. She has more confidence about communicating how she really feels.
- Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
- Facts and statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics