Do you have an Anxiety Disorder?
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, and they won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
- Are you always tense, worried, or on edge?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Are you plagued by fears that you know to be irrational, but can’t shake?
- Do you believe that something terrible will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
- Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they make you anxious?
- Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
- Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
We all know what anxiety feels like. Our heart pounds before a big presentation or a tough exam. We get butterflies in our stomach during a blind date. We worry and fret over family problems or feel jittery at the prospect of asking the boss for a raise.
Emotional symptoms of anxiety
In addition to the primary symptoms of irrational and excessive fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Trouble concentrating
- Feeling tense and jumpy
- Anticipating the worst
- Watching for signs of danger
- Feeling like your mind’s gone blank
Physical symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the body’s fight-or-flight response, anxiety involves a wide range of physical symptoms. Because of the numerous physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make multiple trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is diagnosed.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Pounding heart
- Stomach upset or dizziness
- Frequent urination or diarrhoea
- Shortness of breath
- Tremors and twitches
- Muscle tension
The link between anxiety and depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse (and vice versa), it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions.
Anxiety attacks and their symptoms
Anxiety attacks, known as panic attacks in mental health circles, are episodes of intense panic or fear. Anxiety attacks usually occur suddenly and without warning. Anxiety attacks usually peak within ten minutes, and they rarely last for more than half an hour. However, during that short time, the terror can be so severe that you feel as if you’re about to die or lose control.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack include:
- A surge of overwhelming panic
- The feeling of losing control or going crazy
- Heart palpitations or chest pain
- Feeling like you’re going to pass out
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation
- Hot flushes or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Nausea or stomach cramps
- Feeling detached or unreal
Worry and anxiety self-help tips
- Accept uncertainty
- Create a worry period
- Challenge negative thoughts
- Learn how to relax
- Take care of yourself
- Raise your emotional intelligence
Treatment for anxiety attacks
It’s important to seek help if you’re starting to avoid certain situations or places because you’re afraid of having a panic attack. The good news is that anxiety attacks are highly treatable.
Anxiety treatment options
Anxiety disorders respond very well to treatment, often in a relatively short amount of time. The specific treatment approach depends on the type of anxiety disorder, and it’s severity. In general, most anxiety disorders are treated with behavioural therapy, medication or a combination of the two.
Types of anxiety disorders
- Generalised anxiety disorder: If constant worries and fears distract you from your day-to-day activities.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterised by unwanted thoughts or behaviours that seem impossible to stop or control.
- Panic disorder: Panic disorder is characterised by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode.
- Phobia: A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that, in reality, presents little to no danger.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur in the aftermath of a traumatic or life-threatening event. Also read What is PTSD?
- Social anxiety disorder: If you have a debilitating fear of being seen negatively by others and humiliated in public, you may have a social anxiety disorder. The condition is also known as social phobia.
To get in contact with a mental healthcare professional in your area, please contact the Life Path Health Helpline at 072 7900 506.