Almost everyone experiences anxiety during their life. This can come with worry about the health of a family member or friend, job loss, or even with living through a pandemic. Such anxiety inducing challenges usually resolve within a short time and the anxiety dissipates.
However, a person with an anxiety disorder does not experience that relief. The anxiety builds until it dictates behavior and interferes with normal daily activities. It can cause the terrible feeling of a panic attack and over time develop into fear of certain objects or social situations. Anxiety can make it impossible to maintain the attention and concentration necessary to be employable.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorder include: difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty making decisions, being easily overwhelmed by small changes, feeling restless, difficulty sleeping, and excessive and uncontrollable worry. A panic disorder involves sudden and unexpected panic attacks which can include: heart palpitations, shaking, shortness of breath, feeling out of control, or feeling a sudden sense of doom. A panic attack can feel like a heart attack, like you are dying. Experiencing frequent severe anxiety or panic attacks can make a person worried about when the next panic attack will happen, causing a reinforcing circle of panic-anxiety-panic.
Why one person merely experiences anxiety from time to time and another lives in a perpetual state of fear and dread is not always clear. Trauma, genetics, prolonged exposure to stress, chronic pain, co-occurring illnesses and other factors are all possible contributors.
To prove anxiety as a disabling condition, Social Security demands that a person get consistent treatment to show the presence of the condition and that it is severe enough over time to prevent work for a period of a year or more. A diagnosis of the condition must be made by a trained medical professional (preferably a psychiatrist or psychologist, but a nurse practitioner or your own primary care doctor can make the diagnosis), with continued treatment by a mental health professional to document your symptoms and the severity of the impairment caused by anxiety, panic, or another specific phobia. Additionally, you need to take prescribed medication, reporting any side effects. With the treatment records generated by your attempts to interact with medical professionals, we can help you explain the impact that anxiety has had on your ability to work or even to manage normal daily activities.