Can I continue working with Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety orders are psychiatric disorders which cause excessive worry, unease, fear of the future, apprehensiveness, and difficulty dealing with uncertainty to the degree that it affects a person’s mental, emotional, and/or physical health. The disorder causes high levels of stress and anxiety, ranging from mild fits of nervousness to full blown terror. The three main types of anxiety disorders include:

  • Panic disorder - Commonly referred to as panic attacks, this type of anxiety disorder brings about brief but often intense fear and apprehension. Its symptoms range from shaking to nausea to breathing problems. Attacks can range from ten minutes to hours on end.
  • Phobic disorder - This form of anxiety disorder generally leads to severe (and often irrational) fear of something specific. The phobia can be of an actual thing, or it can be of an event or activity.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder - This type of anxiety disorder causes long term anxiety which is not fixated on a particular object or event. To be diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you must generally be demonstrably anxious for six months or longer.

How Anxiety Disorders Affect Your Physical Capacity for Work

Although anxiety disorders are not physical maladies, they can affect your ability to perform physical work. Those who have panic attacks, shaking, or other common effects of anxiety disorders may find it difficult to perform tasks which require fine motor skills. On top of that, many jobs which involve physical labor (especially heavy physical labor) are dangerous for those who have anxiety attacks. Many who suffer from anxiety disorders also have muscle tension, which can cause some forms of physical work to be much more difficult.

How Anxiety Disorders Affect Your Mental Capacity for Work

Anxiety disorders have a much larger impact on your mental and emotional capacity for work. Whether you suffer from panic attacks, phobias, generalized anxiety, or some combination, anxiety disorders can make it very difficult to concentrate on any task. The behaviors which often accompany feelings of fear and terror (decompression) can make it difficult to interact with coworkers or supervisors. This in turn makes it difficult to maintain employment, even if you are able to find something which you can do.

Many who have anxiety disorders also deal with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), which can cause additional problems at the workplace. Others deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which may limit which types of work environments they can handle. Unfortunately, most employers are not willing or able to take the extra care needed to work with people who have these disorders, making it very difficult to stay gainfully employed.

Anxiety Disorders and Applying for Social Security Disability

If you deal with anxiety disorders, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. It’s important to realize that not all cases of anxiety disorder are severe enough to meet the Social Security Administration’s stringent guidelines. If you are unsure whether you qualify, consider speaking with a Social Security lawyer. Not only will your chance of having your claim approved improve, but you will have less stress in dealing with the SSA through a lawyer.

Generally speaking, in order to have your claim approved based on anxiety disorders, your condition must be medically documented and must be shown to severely affect your ability to perform any meaningful work. You will need to show how your daily life is impacted by your disorder, giving details of how it affects your daily life, your social functioning, and your ability to concentrate on tasks. To be approved for benefits, you must be able to give evidence that shows that your anxiety disorder makes it impossible to perform any work you’ve performed in the past, or any available work for which you could reasonably be trained.