Anxiety or Fears
Do you have an anxiety disorder?
If you identify with several of the following signs and symptoms, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can look very different for each person. One individual may experience intense anxiety attacks that strike without warning, while another gets anxious at the thought of socializing at a party. Someone else may struggle with a fear of driving, or experience uncontrollable, intrusive thoughts. While another may live in a recurring state of tension, worrying about anything and everything.
Despite their different forms, all anxiety disorders share one major symptom: persistent or severe fear or worry in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened.
Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety:
In addition to the primary symptoms of irrational and excessive fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety:
Anxiety is more than just a feeling; it involves a wide range of physical symptoms. Due to the many physical symptoms, people who suffer from anxiety often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is discovered.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
There are six major types of anxiety disorders, each with their own distinct symptoms: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If constant worries and fears distract you from your day-to-day activities or you’re troubled by a persistent feeling that something bad is going to happen, you may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD constantly worry and feel anxious all of the time, though they may not even know why. Anxiety related to GAD often shows up as physical symptoms like insomnia, stomach upset, restlessness, and fatigue.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unwanted thoughts or behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control. If you have OCD, you may be troubled by obsessions, such as a recurring worry that you forgot to lock the door or that you might hurt someone. You may also suffer from uncontrollable compulsions, such as washing your hands over and over again.
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Sometimes a panic attack can feel like a heart attack or other serious illness. Panic disorder may also be accompanied by agoraphobia, which is a fear of being in places where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls or confined spaces such as an airplane.
A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals such as snakes and spiders, fear of flying, and fear of heights. Another common phobia is the fear of public speaking or of doing something embarrassing in front of others. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the thing you fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.
TREATMENT FOR ANXIETY DISORDERS
It’s imperative to seek help if you’re plagued by constant fear or worry, have uncontrollable thoughts or behaviors, or avoid situations or places because you’re scared of having a panic attack. The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and many people experience reduced anxiety within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions. The specific treatment approach depends on the type of anxiety disorder and its severity. In general, most anxiety disorders are treated with cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or some combination of the two.