anxiety is a normal part of life. It is a biological response that helps our bodies prepare for a potential danger. The "fight or flight" feeling that most people experience when approached by a bear, for example, is an anxiety response. It is intended to help us react quickly if we need to defend ourselves or flee the scene.
In the short term, anxiety can be quite a good thing. It helps us get things done or deal with stressful events. However, anxiety disorders are different in that they continue long after the danger has passed, or even when there is no recognizable danger present.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of America estimates that 18% of the adult population in the United States — almost one in five — suffers from an anxiety disorder during any given year. Women are more than twice as likely as men to suffer from an anxiety disorder, and they experience these illnesses three times more often than men do.
3- Sleep disturbance
4- Fatigue and loss of energy
5- Palpitations, accelerated heart rate
6- Nausea and vomiting
7- Diarrhea or constipation
8- Irritability and aggressiveness
9- Muscle tension, aches and cramps
10- Headaches and migraines
11- Hot and cold flashes, sweating or chills
12- Dry mouth
13- Fear of dying
14- Fear of going crazy, losing control or going "mental" (psychotic symptoms)
15- Fear of falling into a hole or down stairs
16- Fear of leaving the house (agoraphobia)
17- Intense fear of specific objects such as spiders, snakes or driving
18 - Numbness and tingling sensations (especially in the hands and feet)
There are several types of anxiety disorders:
- Panic disorder occurs due to a paralyzing fear of having a life-threatening heart attack or other physical catastrophe. In some cases, the individual will even avoid places that might trigger such thoughts. Panic disorder usually starts during, but often also continues after puberty and can be cured with proper treatment.
- Generalized anxiety disorder involves feelings of worry and unease with no obvious trigger. Generalized anxiety can develop at any age, but tends to afflict those who have struggled with earlier types of anxiety disorders. It is thought that it could be an early indicator of an undiagnosed type of anxiety disorder that may become more serious as time goes on — but only if left untreated.
- Social anxiety disorder is often characterized by feelings of extreme shyness, a loss of confidence and the inability to interact comfortably with others.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves constant preoccupation with orderliness and cleanliness. OCD sufferers may be unable to leave objects alone for even a few seconds or even wash their hands excessively.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder is commonly associated with combat experience. It can sometimes occur in the aftermath of any traumatic event and is most often linked with traumatic events experienced before the age of 15.
- Phobias involve an intense fear that prevents a person from doing or being in certain situations. Most phobias are triggered by specific objects, situations, or animals and are often difficult to overcome without help from a professional.
- Separation anxiety disorder involves extreme feelings of panic when a child or other family member leaves for a period of time.
- Social phobia is characterized by fear of embarrassment or humiliation due to social situations and situations involving other people.
- Specific phobia involves intense fears about specific objects or situation. The sufferer will often avoid the object or situation altogether, even if there is no danger present.
when to see doctor?
- If the feeling doesn't go away after a period of time, it is important to seek medical help. The earlier a person receives treatment, the better.
- Anxiety disorders can be treated with a variety of different therapies. Obtaining proper treatment is important, as many people who suffer from anxiety disorders are able to lead normal lives after receiving help and connecting with others who understand what they are going through.
- It is also important to see a doctor if the feeling is interfering with your daily activities at home or work, if you find yourself unable to go places you want because of anxiety or if your family and friends are expressing concern over how much time you spend worrying.
- If you or your children feel an anxiety disorder may be responsible for feelings of panic and excessive worry, see a doctor about the possibility of having PTSD or panic disorder.
- If no physical cause can be found for the problem, it may be necessary to see a general practitioner who can run some tests to rule out other mental health problems.
- More serious symptoms may require immediate medical help in the form of prescription medication.
- A doctor will also be able to talk through each case with you and make sure that proper treatment is started as soon as possible.
- Anxiety disorders are usually linked to past events that have left a person vulnerable or triggered a familiar response in them.
- Many people with anxiety disorders have suffered a traumatic event that they find hard to talk about. It is not unusual for an individual with an anxiety disorder to become suicidal as a result of feelings of shame and hopelessness.
- Chemical imbalances in the brain are also thought to play a role in triggering anxiety symptoms. It is possible that the brain produces too much of the stress hormone cortisol when faced with danger, which then causes physical symptoms as well, including restlessness and muscle tension.
- It's important to note that many people suffer from more than one type of anxiety disorder. If a person has been diagnosed with one type of anxiety disorder, it is highly likely that they will also suffer from another.
- Some people with anxiety disorders may start to notice symptoms at an early age, without any physical cause.
- It is not always easy to tell if a person is suffering from an anxiety disorder. Physiological symptoms such as headaches and dizziness could possibly be caused by physical conditions that require medical attention. It is also important to remember that there are many other mental health disorders that can also cause similar symptoms, including depression and bipolar disorder.
- One common error made by doctors when diagnosing anxiety disorders is assuming the problem stems from something other than an anxiety disorder. People with severe cases of depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to be diagnosed as having anxiety disorders than someone with milder forms of these conditions.
- It is important to remember that depression or bipolar disorder are different from anxiety disorders. While they may share similar symptoms, they are thought to be caused by different things and should be treated in a way specific to each condition.
- There is also some evidence to suggest that family history plays a role in triggering anxiety disorders.
- People who suffer from anxiety disorders are thought to be overreacting to everyday, nonthreatening stimuli. For example, a thunderstorm or surprise party might cause someone with mild panic disorder more fear than the average person — leading them to experience physical symptoms of excessive worry.
- It is possible that the individual's parents had similar issues or are even suffering from a currently undiagnosed anxiety disorder.
- If you know that a parent or sibling has an anxiety disorder, it is important to remember that you are not alone and help is available in the form of professional treatment and support groups for people with similar problems.
- Many people with anxiety disorders have found solace in the fact that there are others who understand how they feel because they have also experienced feelings of panic and extreme worry.
- The more you know about your problem, the more informed your treatment can be. There are many support groups specifically designed for people with specific types of anxiety disorders, such as online forums and local organizations. It is important to remember that anxiety disorders are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you for experiencing them.
- While it may be easy to say, "Just don't worry," it is not always easy to accomplish. But by reaching out to others who have experienced similar feelings, you are starting the process of getting better and taking control of your life once again.
1. Social withdrawal: Hiding from friends and family can seem like the only option to dealing with anxiety.
2. Coping mechanisms used to deal with anxiety: Suicidal ideation, substance abuse, hyperactivitiy, high stress lifestyle and various symptoms of depression
3. Irritability, restlessness and mood swings (especially during high stress times): Withdrawal from others, hopelessness and feelings of guilt that cause irritability?
4. Oneitis (obsession): Obsessive thoughts can lead to more anxiety as they focus on one person or situation that gives you panic attacks
5. Attention seeking: Showing signs of anxiety may give you attention at times. This is a sign of people who are seeking attention to fill a void in their life.
6. Delusional: If you suffer from a major anxiety disorder and it turns into an obsession, then this is delusional thinking at its worst!
7. A failure to thrive: Kids with anxiety are often seen as the "bad kids" who can't focus in school. They never grow out of it because they don't seek help early on or they have been "helped" with medications that lead them to depression when they are older, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorders.
8. Lack of motivation: Anxiety can cause a loss of motivation, because to the sufferer it seems that there is not the possibility to reach goals and be successful.
9. Paranoid: People with anxiety disorders are often seen as paranoid or hypersensitive because they are always on high alert for danger. They may not realize that everyone else is not looking out six times as hard as they are!
10. Avoiding Help: If one is in a state of panic, then they don't really care if they are having an anxiety attack or if they need help. They will most likely keep other people away out of fear that they will make things worse.
11. Physical complications: Weeks or months of anxiety can lead to extreme physical problems, such as headaches, sleeping or eating disorders.
12. Bipolar disorder: Anxiety is often linked to bipolar disorder because those who have anxiety must be constantly "on" just like the person with the manic phase of a bipolar disorder.
13. Disassociative Identity Disorder (DID): A lot of the symptoms of DID are very similar to someone who is suffering from an anxiety disorder - hyper alert, mood swings and panic attacks from one identity/personality to another.
14. Dependency on others: Anxiety sufferers become dependent on others because they need someone else's help just to live their life and cope with everyday situations without panicking.
15. Lack of go-getter: Many anxiety sufferers are seen as being unambitious or lazy because they don't always have the motivation to do things in their life. This may be due to past failures or because they cannot see a goal in their life. They become resistant to new opportunities and tend to withdraw from them because they assume that it will end up making them feel more anxious than before. SO, their goal is to just survive and do nothing more than that.
16. Giving up: Overwhelmed by anxiety, sufferers may be seen as giving up. This is something that can actually happen when you have an anxiety disorder and you think that you cannot do anything about it. You may also have a person in your life who has an anxiety disorder and he/she gives up on life because of the way they see you or feel about you.
17. Obsession with thoughts or feelings: Sufferers may become obsessed with what they feel or think, which is the same thing as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), except that those with OCD obsessions are more likely to suffer from delusions.
18. Apathy, indifference and lack of emotional connection: People who do not get help for their anxiety are often seen as not caring about other people or life in general. They don't care if they have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder because they think that it is the 'normal way to be."
19. Suicidal ideations and depression: Suicidal ideations and depression can be part of a major anxiety disorder or a reaction to the total lack of interest in life that someone has from having an anxiety disorder.
20. Self abuse to cope: You may abuse cigarettes, alcohol, drugs or other things to cope with an anxiety disorder. Those who self-mutilate are usually seen as crazy by those around them.
1. Evaluation: A thorough interview will help the doctor identify an anxiety disorder and determine the severity of it.
2. Physical: Various things can be done to measure your anxiety levels including taking your pulse and blood pressure, speaking with you about your lifestyle and trying to determine what your diet is like, all the while doing a thorough physical exam (you may have to have one before the exam, too).
3. The Diagnostic Interview of Anxiety Disorders: This is a more in depth interview that will help doctors determine if you really do suffer from an anxiety disorder or if it is something else.
4. Psychological tests: These are various tests that are meant to help the doctor determine your emotional state. They will let him/her know if you have any mental disorders.
5. Diagnostic Interview of Children and Adolescents: This is used for kids between the ages of 5 and 18 years old.
1. Medication: A lot of people with anxiety disorders end up on medications, which are effective for some but not for others. Some people feel a little better, but they can also cause other problems such as depression or suicidal thoughts or attempts . . . so be careful!
2. Mindfulness-based therapy: This is the best choice for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It will address the underlying problems of the anxiety disorder instead of focusing on just the symptoms that are being presented by an individual.
3. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): This is used to change how you perceive a situation or how you react to it. It can help you learn healthier ways of thinking and acting as well as how to accept your feelings instead of trying to fix them or run away from them. The goal is to have a happier, more satisfying life with less anxiety and fear!
4. Relaxation therapy: You can learn to calm yourself down, which will help you relax and breathe. This is great for those who find it hard to take deep breathes or to stay relaxed. It allows you to focus on the things that you want in life instead of the things that are causing your anxiety. It also has benefits for the body, mind, and spirit.
5. Stress management program: If a person suffers from anxiety because of stress, that person needs to learn how to manage their stress by learning some breathing methods and muscle relaxation exercises instead of trying so hard to fight it (which is what stress does).
6. Cognitive therapy to help you change: This will help you stop negative thinking and enable you to change your attitudes and beliefs.
7. Alternative treatment: This is used to treat the physical symptoms of an anxiety disorder by changing the diet, getting enough sleep, and relieving the physical symptoms that are causing this disorder.
8. Exercise program: The purpose of this program is to get people out of their routines for a little bit so that they can be more flexible and focused on healthy ways of living. In addition, it helps with physical symptoms such as headaches and insomnia.
9. Support groups: These are useful for people with anxiety disorders because they are able to see that they are not alone and that others have dealt with the same feelings, thoughts, or situations. This gives them hope that there is a better future for them if they get the help and support that will enable them to be free from their anxiety!
1. Recognize the signs: If you know that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should try to get help as soon as possible. Talk to a friend or family member and find out what they think of your symptoms.
2. Create a plan: Write down all of your fears in order to see what you fear most and then write down things that you want to do in those fears. This will give your anxiety some direction and will help put it into perspective for you!
3. Be more active: Exercise can help with depression, anxiety, and other disorders like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If you don't like or have time for it, find a way to make exercise a part of your life.
4. Take medication if you need it: Many people with anxiety disorders or panic attacks can manage them on their own without medication, but if the symptoms are not going away or getting worse and you believe that they are impairing your daily life, then take the necessary steps to get help for your anxiety!
5. Avoid alcohol and drugs: These hormones can make an already bad situation worse and can cause serious side effects including an addiction.
6. Understand that it's okay to be anxious: If you feel like something is coming over you and your heart starts to pound, start thinking that you can handle this. Tell yourself that you will be okay and that this feeling will pass.
7. Practice regular exercise: You are more flexible when your muscles are warm. If you have time for only a 15-20 minute walk every day, or do some stretches, that would be great!
8. Ask for help: When you get used to asking for help and expecting it from those around you, it gets easier and easier . . . so don't ever stop asking for help! It is a lot better than the alternative.
9. Try something new: Try a new activity that you have always wanted to do or try an old one. It will make you feel good about yourself when you are able to do something that you have always wanted to do!
10. Don't forget other people: When you are feeling anxious, remember that someone out there has this same feeling. It could be your mother, partner, another family member, best friend or even a teacher or counselor at school.