Anxiety disorders affect about 18.1% of the adult population. They can affect an individual’s quality of life, including their job, relationships, and physical health. Many do not realize just how much severe anxiety can affect an individual’s ability to work. If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, this guide will walk you through finding support groups, getting help, receiving disability benefits, and employment.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are unique to each person, and its symptoms can vary in severity depending on the individual. Many people experience symptoms of multiple anxiety conditions and may experience other mental health issues like depression as well. While it can be challenging to explain your anxiety to others not affected by it, it is important to remember that what you are feeling is real. Try not to let others make you think otherwise. Here are 6 of the most common types of anxiety.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Individuals are persistently and excessively anxious and worried about multiple things. A medical professional will diagnose individuals with GAD if they find themselves worrying most of the time for at least six months. A person also has to exhibit three or more symptoms, which you can read through on ADAA’s Website.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): OCD causes unwanted and repeated thoughts or fears (obsession) that lead to compulsive behaviors. The National Institute of Mental Health has a guide on OCD, which among many things, gives an overview of signs and symptoms, risk factors, treatments, and therapies.
Panic disorder: Individuals with panic disorder have panic attacks where they feel uncontrollable, overwhelming anxiety, and other physical symptoms like shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness, and chest pain. For some, panic attacks can happen without warning anytime and anywhere.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after individuals experience or witness traumatic events. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe anxiety often caused by specific triggers. The National Institute of Mental Health has a guide on PTSD, which outlines, signs, symptoms, risk factors, federal resources, treatments and therapies.
Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety, also known as social phobia, is characterized by having an extreme fear of being negatively judged, criticized, or embarrassed in everyday situations where you interact with others. The National Institute of Mental Health has a guide that outlines social anxiety disorder, symptoms, causes, treatment, and more.
Specific Phobias: Specific phobias are anxiety disorders characterized by unreasonable or irrational fears related to being exposed to particular objects, places, or situations. Some common phobias focus on animals, insects, heights, germs, public transportation, driving, flying, thunder, and medical procedures.
Anxiety can make you feel like you are alone. However, 40 million U.S adults are living with anxiety. Finding a support system can be incredibly helpful. Hearing other individuals’ personal experiences can make you feel less alone and allow you to learn from and with them. Support groups will enable you to receive emotional support that can be challenging to find elsewhere. Here are several in-person and virtual support groups that you can look through.
In-person support groups are a great way to form a community with people who live near you. They allow individuals to share personal experiences, coping strategies, and to ask for advice. Talking with others who can understand what you are going through also enables you to improve your understanding of your anxiety and experience with it. Before attending in-person groups, you can call or email them to make sure that they are still open and to get additional information. You can ask what a typical meeting entails, if you can bring someone along for support, if you have to participate or are allowed to observe, or if there is a fee. Here is a great guide that explains how to evaluate a support group so that you can ensure you are going to a good one. If you are still struggling to find an in-person support group, here are three great ones with locations across the U.S. that you can look through.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): At ADDA, you can use their support group listings to search for groups near you. If you cannot find one, their website helps walk you through how to start one. ADAA does not update groups regularly. So, make sure that you confirm a group’s information with the listed contact or website before attending.
Psychology Today: Psychology Today has detailed listings of mental health professionals and anxiety support groups across the country. You can search by your city or zip code to find the nearest support groups, therapists, psychiatrists, or treatment centers to you.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): NAMI has 650 State Organizations and Affiliates across the country that offer free support and educational programs. You can filter their support groups by issues, sexuality, gender, age, and types of therapy. This filter is a great feature if you are looking for a more targeted group. You can also use your zip code to find your local NAMI Affiliate and what kinds of programs and support they offer.
There are several benefits to joining online support groups. Unlike in-person groups, you can connect with people 24/7 if they are online. If you do not have internet access at your home, public libraries usually have internet and computers that you can use. Online groups are more affordable and doable for many as public transportation to in-person meetings can be expensive and finding time to go can be challenging. Finally, people with anxiety may feel more comfortable and safe talking to others anonymously from home. There are also a few negatives to online support groups. Since they are not always moderated and run by professionals, you risk misinformation and also risk miscommunication since people cannot hear your tone of voice. It is also harder to commit to an online group than an in-person group.There are many incredible online support groups out there that have changed the lives of many. Here are 8 to consider.
Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA): ADAA has an anonymous online anxiety and depression support group with over 20,000 global subscribers. ADAA has created a safe and supportive place where individuals with anxiety and their friends and family can share experiences and information. You have the choice to start a conversation, join an existing one, or post about your journey. They also have an IOS app for iPhones.
AnxietySpace: AnxietySpace has several anxiety disorder forums. These include but are not limited to Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia, Specific Phobia, PTSD, and OCD. In these forums, individuals share coping mechanisms, ask each other questions, and share stories.
Daily Strength: Daily Strength has ten online anxiety disorder support groups, including ones named Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and Social Anxiety, and Phobia. Their main Anxiety Support Groups has 17,480 members.
Mental Health America (MHA): MHA is a discussion community that allows you to connect with individuals impacted by mental health conditions like anxiety and get support. You can scroll through a discussion board where users post their stories, advice, thoughts, struggles, and other things about anxiety. MHA has a great online anonymous screening tool for anxiety and work health. Individuals can use this tool and see their immediate results, education, resources, and linkage to affiliates.
Supportgroups.com: Supportgroups.com has several online support groups, including an Anxiety Support Group with more than 100,500 members.
The Tribe: The Tribe is an online support group for individuals coping with fear and stress associated with anxiety disorders. At The Tribe, you can connect and share stories with other people living with anxiety. Members of The Tribe’s anxiety support group get access to a dedicated activity stream, forum, and chat rooms. They also get access to wellness tools, including a wellness tracker, friend reminders, mood mapping, and sending kudos.
Turn2me: Turn2me: Turn2me hosts online support groups for a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety. Their support groups are free and run by qualified professionals who ensure that everyone is respected and heard. Their groups require booking since places are limited.
7 Cups: 7 Cups offers free emotional support to users and connects them to caring listeners. They have helped over 25 million people. No matter who you are or what you are going through, they are there to make you feel heard. They have free 24/7-hour chats with caring listeners, chat rooms, forums, self-help guides and growth paths with proven tips and advice, and affordable online therapy and counseling with licensed therapists for $150 per month.
Anxiety disorders usually respond well to treatment, including behavioral therapy, counseling, and medication. While anxiety disorders are very treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. It is important to seek help. You do not have to live with anxiety. Below are a few resources to look through if you want to find help.
BetterHelp: Online counseling can be an excellent option for individuals struggling with anxiety. BetterHelp’s mission is to make professional counseling accessible, affordable, and convenient so that anyone struggling with life’s challenges can get help anytime, anywhere. 98% of their clients made significant progress, and 94% prefer BetterHelp over face to face therapy. They have a growing list of over 2,000 online mental health therapists, and more than 500,000 people have signed up to use their online counseling services.
SAMHSA’s National Helpline: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free, confidential National Helpline for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders available 24/7, 365 days a year in English and Spanish. SAMHSA has support groups, community-based organizations, and offers referrals to local treatment facilities. You can reach them at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889.
Self-help for Anxiety: HelpGuide has a guide on anxiety that includes a list of self-help tips that can help manage symptoms of anxiety disorders. Some suggestions are practicing relaxation techniques, exercising regularly, connecting with others, getting enough sleep, and monitoring your caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine intake.
NAMI HelpLine: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides individuals experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder with support and information about community resources. This line is also open to friends and family members of those experiencing anxiety. You can call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or want help finding support and resources.
Therapists: Therapy can help individuals combat their anxiety, develop coping mechanisms, and discover the underlying causes of their worries or fears. Here are two directories of medical professionals that you can look through.
Remote work can be an excellent option for individuals with anxiety. It can help people avoid fast passed high-stress situations. Remote work is not for everyone, and some remote jobs can be bad for people with anxiety. Teleworking can be great for some while anxiety-inducing for those some, particularly those with social anxiety. Having to deal with customers all day is a nightmare for many. Here are 9 remote jobs that you can look through.
Corporate Travel agent: Corporate travel agents sell transportation, lodging, and entertainment activities to individuals and groups planning trips. They offer advice on destinations, plan trip itineraries, and make travel arrangements for clients. Learn about what a corporate travel agent does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Freelance writer: Freelance writers inform the public about news and events happening internationally, nationally, and locally. They report the news for newspapers, magazines, websites, television, and radio shows. While this is a great option, it can be difficult to find freelance opportunities, and they do not always pay a lot. Learn about what a freelancer does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Graphic Designer: Graphic designers create visual concepts, using computer software or by hand to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, and captivate consumers. They develop the overall layout and production design for various applications such as advertisements, brochures, magazines, and corporate reports. Learn about what a Graphic Designer does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Social Media Specialists: Social Media Specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent. They design media releases to shape public perception of their organization and to increase awareness of its work and goals. Learn about what a Social Media Specialist does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Language Translator: If you speak more than one language, this might be the perfect fit for you. Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another. Interpreters work in spoken or sign language, and translators work in written communication. Learn about what a Language Translator does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Medical Transcriptionist: Medical transcriptionists listen to voice recordings that physicians and other healthcare workers make and convert them into written reports. Learn about what a Medical Transcriptionist does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Technical Support Specialist Technical Support Specialists provide help and advice to people and organizations using computer software or equipment. This job is not great for those with social anxiety since you have to deal with customers, many who are frustrated, all day. Learn about what a Technical Support Specialist does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Virtual Assistant: Virtual Assistants perform routine clerical and administrative duties. They organize files, prepare documents, schedule appointments, and support other staff. Learn about what a Virtual Assistant does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Web Developer: Web developers design and create websites. They are responsible for the look of a company’s or individual’s site and the site’s technical aspects. Web developers also create content for the site. Learn about what a Web Developer does, the skills needed to become one, average salaries, and how you can become one in the future on Zippia’s site.
Severe anxiety disorders can affect an individual’s ability to work and perform on the job. Obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits based on an anxiety disorder can be challenging. Anxiety diagnoses are largely based on what individuals report to a doctor, making them hard for medical professionals to document and prove a need for disability assistance from the government.
SSA’s definition of a disability: “The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Disability Evaluation Under Social Security – Section 12.06: Social Anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders are categorized under section 12.06. Some disorders that fall under this category are agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. SSA characterizes anxiety disorders under section 12.06 by “excessive anxiety, worry, apprehension, and fear, or by avoidance of feelings, thoughts, activities, objects, places, or people.”
Disability Benefits: The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs that offer disability benefits.
Applying For Disability: You can apply for disability with Social Security’s online disability application. They walk you through how to apply, what information you need, and what happens after you apply. You can apply by phone and call 1-800-772-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 from 7 AM – 7 PM. You can also apply in person at your local Social Security office. If you chose to go in person, call first to make an appointment.
Lawyers: Filing Social Security Disability claims can be a long and stressful process. Some people may want to consider getting a Social Security Disability lawyer to help them throughout the process. A lawyer can make the process easier for you and can also increase the chances of your claim being approved.
Employers can take several steps to make their workplace more accommodating to individuals with anxiety-related disorders. Here are a few questions and suggestions to get employers on the right track.
The Job Accommodation Network (JAN) JAN has a list of questions that an employer should consider. Some of these questions include:
Flexible Work Schedules: Offering employees flexible work hours and options to work-remotely can be very helpful. You can also provide employees with breaks whenever they need mental rest and time to refocus. Some actionable steps you can take are keeping your workplace open beyond the typical 9-5 day. You can also allow employees to divide a longer break into several shorter ones or vis versa, depending on their needs.
Reduce Triggers: Some anxiety-related conditions, namely PTSD, anxiety, and panic disorders, have specific triggers that provoke or aggravate symptoms. If an individual alerts you to triggers in the workplace, it can be very beneficial to the employee to either try to eliminate those triggers or look into other accommodations.
Support and Service animals: Allowing emotional support and service animal in the workplace can be beneficial to many employees. Animals can help reduce stress and foster productivity for the entire workplace. They also provide therapeutic benefits to their owners and can mitigate some anxiety symptoms.