By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Today is World Mental Health Day. The idea behind it is to raise awareness about mental health — whether it be depression, PTSD, anxiety or any range of concerns.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the U.S., according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The National Institutes of Health found 19.1% of Americans had some sort of anxiety disorder over the past year.

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So, what is anxiety? Good Question.

“All of our bodies are capable of having anxiety,” says Dr. Mirza Baig, a psychiatrist with Allina Health. “What makes it a disorder is when it affects our lives.”

For example, people might struggle to make a phone call, spend time in public places or worry about things most other people don’t worry about.

Anxiety can manifest itself through physical symptoms as well, like nausea, tremors, restlessness, sweating, headaches, racing heart or upset stomach.

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There are different kinds of anxiety disorders. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is often characterized as exaggerated worrying. There’s also social anxiety disorder, or an overwhelming fear of social interaction, panic attacks and phobias.

“There’s an obsession where people can’t these thoughts out of their heads,” Baig said.

Baig says anxiety can be triggered by an traumatic events, but that’s not always the case. Some people are simply more prone to anxiety than others.

Treatment for each person is different and can range from therapy to medication to relaxation techniques to medication.

“I think the most important thing is to be aware of it,” Baig said. “People that you trust – share it. I think we all need to talk more about it.”

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For more resources and help about anxiety, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota.

Heather Brown