The Truth About How Long Anxiety Disorders Last

Disclosure: this page may contain affiliate links to select partners. We receive a commission should you choose to make a purchase after clicking on them. Read our affiliate disclosure.

Anxiety is a wicked, cruel, invisible illness that is deep, dark, and debilitating.

Anxiety takes the form of many physical and mental symptoms. A person with an anxiety disorder might experience a racing heart, stomachache, and body pain. They may also struggle to perform everyday tasks.

Though anxiety is a feeling that is intended to keep a person safe, when the feeling begins to interfere with life, and it becomes challenging to settle down, it’s time to consider talking to your doctor because you might have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are treatable, but patience is required.

Suppose you’re newly diagnosed or supporting a loved one with an anxiety disorder. In that case, you’re probably wondering how long it will stick around. Though the length of time an anxiety disorder will last is different for each person, there are some important variables and factors to consider that will help you understand how long an anxiety disorder will last.

There are a few different anxiety disorders, each varying in intensity and presenting differently as well. Some of the most common anxiety disorders are: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobia-related disorders, and separation anxiety disorder.

It’s important to understand that each of these anxiety disorders presents differently for each person, and they can severely cripple a sufferer’s life. However, with care and treatment, a person can typically live a successful, happy life alongside a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

One prevalent anxiety disorder is known as GAD or generalized anxiety disorder. As its name suggests, it’s a feeling of anxiety about general things. Living life with generalized anxiety disorder brings many challenges.

People with generalized anxiety disorder experience an almost constant feeling of intense worry and panic. It is a worry about everything, and it feels impossible to control.

Symptoms of GAD include feeling on edge and restless, difficulty concentrating, unexplained aches and pains, inability to control worry-related feelings, and problems with sleep—either getting too much or too little.

In real life, this can look like being unable to finish work tasks because you can’t focus, having constant headaches, having stomach aches that don’t have a pattern, and losing your patience with people. It might also make romantic relationships challenging and hinder friendships. It’s difficult to manage this anxiety disorder. It requires setting clear boundaries, self-care, and regular visits to your healthcare provider.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with generalized anxiety disorder for a long time before they seek help. If the anxiety disorder stems from childhood, it can be complex for a person to recognize that they have a problem because they’ve spent their whole life worrying about everything and anything and believe it to be normal.

When I was first diagnosed with my anxiety disorder, GAD, I was shocked. I was being assessed for mood imbalances and instability; I was stunned to learn that I was living with undiagnosed anxiety. When you grow up with it, you don’t know anything different. But, ultimately, it’s not normal and can and should be treated.

Upon being diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you will probably have many questions. I know I did. Questions flooded my brain. Will I always have this anxiety disorder? Have I always had it? What do I do now? And the answers to all these questions aren’t as simple as yes or no. But, I will share some factors to consider when you’re wondering about them.

The reality is, if you’re diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you likely had it in childhood too. Back then, mental health wasn’t as talked about, and everything was entirely different. Children learned to self-soothe, and we didn’t talk about how excessive worrying was harmful and unnecessary. But it can be treated and you can get help.

Generalized anxiety disorder is entirely treatable, but not curable. This means that through medications, therapy, strengthening stress management skills, and other factors like limiting alcohol and caffeine, you can learn to take control of it and lessen the intensity of your symptoms.

Some seasons of your life might be riddled with intense anxiety, crippled with fierce symptoms, and it could severely disrupt your entire life. While other times can be tranquil, peaceful, and calm. Always remember that recovery, healing, and adapting are not linear. Generalized anxiety disorder ebbs and flows much the same as life.

GAD treatment.

Creating and sticking to a treatment plan for generalized anxiety disorder takes patience, perseverance, and faith. I say this because it’s not a one size fits all type of thing. Every person with this anxiety disorder is unique, and what works for one might not work for the other and vice versa.

Treatment usually includes some form of psychotherapy and medication. However, there are many medications, and it can take patience to try them, live through the side effects, and then determine whether or not it’s a good fit.

Other things that are helpful with generalized anxiety disorder are maintaining a routine, monitoring caffeine and alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting regular physical activity.

Though life with an anxiety disorder is certainly an uphill battle, it’s not impossible. Treating and strengthening coping skills can make the climb a little easier. Connect with loved ones about your feelings so that they can help and support you. You’re not alone!

How long does generalized anxiety disorder last?

The anxiety itself is something you’ll likely always have to manage. Some days will be less anxious than others, and learning stress relief techniques and tools can greatly impact your overall life and ability to function. Generalized anxiety disorder can be treated but not cured. Symptoms can flare up during various life seasons and settle down with others.

It’s important to keep in mind that there is help and treatment available, and getting your proper diagnosis is the first step. Make the phone call and seek help if that’s where you are. Anxiety is difficult to live with, and you don’t need to fight through it alone.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder comprised of at least two panic attacks. A panic attack has many symptoms, and people who experience them usually feel several symptoms simultaneously. A panic attack brings a sense of terror to the individual. You feel like you’re in extreme danger, and your heart races, maybe even pounds. You’re shaking, sweating even. You’re not sure if you’re hot or cold; nothing really makes sense.

People may try to tell you you’re safe, everything is okay, but you’re not even sure if that’s real. What is going on? Usually, the feelings pass within ten minutes, but sometimes they linger. This is a panic attack, and it occurs without any warning, whether you’re ready for it or not. It’s a difficult mental illness to live with; without treatment, it can severely derail your life.

Panic disorder treatment.

Treatment for this mental illness can consist of either or both psychotherapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy, specifically, is beneficial for people with panic disorder because it teaches different ways of thinking and reacting to feelings, physical symptoms, and triggers. Over time, attacks can lessen with the management of physical anxiety symptoms.

Medications used for panic disorder vary. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), beta-blockers, and various anti-anxiety medications are a few options to treat panic disorder. Keep in mind that some medications take several weeks to take full effect, so be patient and have a solid crisis plan that you can reach for quickly.

A few other things someone with panic disorder can do to help educate themselves is to talk about it with loved ones and know their limits and crisis signs.

When does panic disorder go away?

With treatment, patience, and hard, consistent work, symptoms of panic disorder can be alleviated and sometimes erased altogether within a few months. However, remember that it takes regular visits to your healthcare provider, finding the right medication, and learning techniques to lessen the intensity of the anxiety symptoms.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is a very challenging mental illness to live with. While feelings of shyness are normal, people with social anxiety disorder struggle with everyday interactions and are often overwhelmed with anxiety, embarrassment, and the fear of being judged harshly by others.

Living with this anxiety disorder can significantly impact a person’s personal life, career, relationships, and ability to function. Without treatment and care, people can isolate themselves to avoid social situations.

Symptoms of social anxiety disorder range from the worry of embarrassment and humiliation, raging fear of talking to others, avoidance of situations where you’ll be the focus, and severe fear in social environments. There are other symptoms as well, but these are the most common.

Social anxiety disorder isn’t just a matter of being shy, but rather intense feelings of judgment by others, worry that you’re going to say the wrong thing, anxiety about being in the spotlight, and more. Social anxiety disorder is more than just shyness, but it can still be worked through.

How to treat social anxiety disorder?

Social anxiety disorder can be effectively treated with psychotherapy. Working with a qualified therapist can help a person improve their confidence and inner narrative, which can lessen the disorder’s symptoms. Medications used to treat this anxiety disorder range from common SSRIs, SNRIs, anti-depressants, and beta blockers.

How long does social anxiety disorder last?

Social anxiety disorder affects each person differently; therefore, the length of time it’s aggravated and triggered is different for each as well. The sooner a person seeks treatment and support, the sooner they can expect to handle their symptoms better. Remember that many treatment plans take time to see how they’re affecting your social anxiety fully. Stay patient and keep working toward lessening your symptoms.

Phobia-related Disorders

Phobia-related disorders are a form of anxiety that causes a person to feel a completely irrational and extreme fear of something. The person struggling with this might even be aware that the fear is entirely irrational but simply can’t control it. The fear is intense, and the physical symptoms can cause a lot of disruption in a person’s life.

While there are several different forms of phobias, the symptoms of phobia-related disorders remain relatively similar across the board. Symptoms can present physically in the form of sweating, racing heartbeat, hot flashes, dry mouth, pins and needles, and more. In addition, people with phobia-related disorders will have uncontrollable fear and anxiety when exposed to their trigger and a feeling that the trigger must be avoided.

How long do phobia-related disorders last?

Typically, phobia-related disorders tend to be lifelong. However, that’s where intervention and treatment are critical. Through various psychotherapy techniques, people with phobia-related disorders can learn to cope with the physical symptoms presented by the disorder and lessen the overall impact it has on their life.

As with all mental illnesses though, it takes effort and consistency to show up, take the prescribed medication, and participate actively in therapy. Suppose you do all the things, though. In that case, you can expect to get a good handle on your phobia-related disorder and lessen the intensity of your symptoms.

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Though more common in adolescents and youth, separation anxiety disorder can arise in adults. It can cause a lot of obstacles in one’s life. It can concern work, home, or other relationships and cause enormous havoc and stress.

Separation anxiety disorder in children is treated differently than in adults, much the same as other anxiety disorders. Adults living with separation anxiety disorder can participate in therapy and learn skills to cope better. Once these newly acquired skills have been implemented for an extended period of time, symptoms will typically lessen in intensity.

Will separation anxiety disorder go away?

With dedication, persistence, and patience, a person with separation anxiety disorder can work to eliminate or at least significantly reduce their symptoms. The key factor lies in recognizing when separation anxiety is a problem and when it’s just typical. If it interrupts regular living activities, it’s an issue and should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

How to live a full life with an anxiety disorder.

At this point in the article, you might be overwhelmed or anxious. These are some severe anxiety disorders we’re sharing today and some potentially debilitating side effects. However, it’s essential to note that it is possible to have a full, happy life alongside an anxiety disorder.

Still, diagnosis, treatment, and ongoing care are all essential factors. To live a full life with an anxiety disorder, a person can benefit from limiting caffeine and alcohol, eating a healthy, nutrient-dense diet, participating in regular physical activity, and committing to self-care and self-development.

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but with care, therapy, and medical support, a person can improve and lessen the intensity of their symptoms. A person with an anxiety disorder can learn coping skills and stress management tips to lessen the severity of their symptoms.

Of course, anxiety itself always will exist. It’s a normal feeling that serves a purpose—to guide decision making with an emphasis on safety. But people can strengthen their control over their symptoms and participate in various therapies to improve their mental health.

Can an anxiety disorder come back?

Once you’ve gotten control over your symptoms and everything is going great and stable, a thought might come into your mind: “Is my anxiety going to come back?” Again, it’s important to be mindful and in the moment. Be aware of your thoughts and bring yourself back to one breath at a time.

Anxiety disorders are not linear, much like everything with mental health. There are huge ups and downs. Some seasons of your life might feel overwhelming and out of control. In contrast, others will be packed with meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises. Be mindful not to compare your journey with others but just to be present and focus on caring for yourself and doing good things for your mental health.

Can an anxiety disorder get worse?

Without proper treatment or intervention, anxiety disorders, unfortunately, can get worse. Triggers might become more sensitive, and symptoms can grow more intense. It’s best to always maintain consistent contact with your healthcare provider to check in and evaluate how you’re feeling.

Anxiety disorders left untreated and undiagnosed can cause severe problems in people’s lives. It could potentially trigger another health issue as well, such as depression. If your anxiety disorder isn’t improving, and you’re not feeling better even after beginning treatment, connect with your medical provider again. It’s important to seek help, care, and support as soon as possible.

Are anxiety disorders permanent?

Typically, an anxiety disorder can significantly improve with medical care, psychotherapy, and, if required, medication. It is essential to acknowledge that a low level of anxiety in daily living is normal and that an anxiety disorder typically interrupts life and daily living tasks. While an anxiety disorder won’t be “cured,” it can be improved. A person with an anxiety disorder can improve and, with adequate treatment, greatly decrease their anxiety disorder’s hold on them.

Key takeaways.

If you are struggling with a diagnosed or undiagnosed anxiety disorder, you might feel overwhelmed, hopeless, and confused. While you’ve likely been struggling with anxiety for quite some time, you can learn more and develop coping skills once you’ve received an official diagnosis.

Educating yourself about your disorder is important, as is connecting with your support people and committing to learning skills to ease your triggers. Anxiety disorders can be treated through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. It often requires patience to find the right ones, but push on because it is possible.

Through support, medication, and strong coping skills, a person can greatly reduce their symptoms and potentially alleviate them entirely.

Anxiety disorders are different for everyone and can change with the ups and downs of life. Stay focused on taking care of yourself, practicing self-care and self-love, and showing up for yourself. Maintaining a positive mindset can generate lasting impacts on anxiety disorders.

You may also like: