Learn More About Anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of life. Most people experience occasional anxiety in response to stressful or unexpected events. However, individuals with anxiety disorders experience anxiety that is intense, distressing, and persistent. Anxiety can be experienced throughout the day, as a sudden surge of fear or panic, or in response to certain events/stimuli. Anxiety experienced in this manner is difficult to control and can interfere with your ability to function. In addition, the anxiety is often out of proportion in comparison to the stressor that provoked the anxiety. Some individuals avoid certain people, places, and events in order to avoid the experience of anxiety.
Common signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Trouble controlling worry
- Avoidance of things that trigger anxiety
Several types of anxiety disorders exist (some example are described below):
· Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that cause panic and feelings of being trapped, helpless, or embarrassed.
· Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem (e.g. hyper-thyroidism).
· Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically.
· Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).
· Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that is excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
· Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
· Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when an individual is exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
· Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
You should consult with your doctor if you believe that anxiety is interfering with your ability to work, engage in a relationship, or negatively impacts other important areas of your life. You should also consult your doctor if anxiety causes: fear, worry or anxiety that is difficult to control; depression, trouble with alcohol or drug use, or other mental health concerns along with anxiety; concern that your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem; the presence of suicidal thoughts or behaviors (if you experience suicidal thoughts or behavior, you should contact crisis support such as 9-1-1 immediately).