Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness. They affect more than 40 million Americans (or 18% of the population) on average, each year.
Anxiety disorders come in many forms. They include phobias such as a fear of spiders, heights, needles, or enclosed spaces. Social anxiety disorder, also known as SAD, is the fear of being around people. Generalized anxiety disorder, known as GAD, describes a constant state of worry about many things.
It’s common for people who struggle with anxiety to also struggle with depression. These two conditions often coexist.
The way in which anxiety expresses itself will vary from person to person. But there are a few signs to look out for to help you tell whether or not you have a condition or a passing emotion. For one, if you have a disorder, your symptoms won’t be a short-lived response to a stressful event. It’s likely that it will interfere with many aspects of your life, like work and relationships. Your emotions will feel larger than the events that trigger them and linger for longer.
In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about anxiety disorders. The better you understand them, the easier it will be to find solutions.
Early Symptoms of Anxiety
You can feel both anxiety and depression early, even before an acute event occurs. Warning signs include feeling more stressed and overwhelmed than usual. You might stop enjoying things that you used to, like a hobby or going out with friends.
If your anxiety occurs with depression, you may try to isolate yourself, feel sad, and have negative thoughts.
Anxiety: Common Emotional Symptoms
There can be emotional signs of anxiety that affect our behavior. They can also influence the way we think.
Feeling worried, out of proportion with common stress is a sign of GAD. This feeling lasts most of the day, almost daily, or at least six months. The worrying is severe enough to affect your memory, concentration, and daily tasks. In other words, it interferes with your life. You will not be able to set aside or let go of that worry.
Agitation, Irritability, and Restlessness
Feeling these emotions suggest an anxiety disorder. It’s especially telling if they occur along with excessive worrying. The “fight or flight” response causes agitation. It can induce a racing pulse, sweating, dry mouth, and shaky hands.
The “anxious brain” believes that there is danger and prepares the body to react. In this state, it is unable to relax. Children and teenagers with anxiety are more likely to be restless than agitated.
Another common symptom of anxiety is difficulty concentrating or feeling the mind “going blank.” Two out of three people with anxiety experience this symptom. The more severe the anxiety, the more severe the inability to concentrate. Performance at work or school often declines and short-term memory is particularly affected.
Other signs of anxiety include overthinking about various plans and solutions. This person will focus on the worst-case scenario when overthinking.
Trouble handling uncertain situations and being indecisive due to fear of making the wrong decision are other signs. They may also constantly feel they are under threat.
Anxiety: Common Physical Symptoms
While anxiety mostly affects mood, thoughts, and behavior, it also causes physical symptoms. Fatigue is a major complaint, in part due to problems with sleep.
Physical anxiety symptoms include:
- Muscle tension
- Muscle pain
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Excessive sweating
A doctor will run tests to rule out other medical conditions that can cause these symptoms.
Anxiety in Children and Teenagers
Just like adults, children and teenagers can also have problems with excessive worrying. However, their worry may focus more on performance at school, sports events, or environmental crises like earthquakes. They may worry a lot about a parent’s safety. An anxious child or teen may be a perfectionist, spend more time doing homework, try hard to fit in, and seek approval from peers. They may also avoid school or social events and complain about stomach pain.
It’s important to seek medical advice if you think you or your child have anxiety. Children need professional help, too. We are living during hard times. Taking care of our mental health is more vital than ever before to live a normal and happy life.
Treatment for Anxiety
GABA is the main neurotransmitter that helps us feel calm and relaxed. Anti-anxiety drugs claim to increase levels of GABA and reduce anxiety. They are usually given along with antidepressants. Psychotherapy can also help improve symptoms and teach you how to build resilience.
Other treatments include making healthy lifestyle changes. These include keeping a workout routine, improving diet, getting social support, or joining an online group. You will learn how to cope with future problems that may be tough. Stress will always be part of our lives, but we can learn how to react and manage it so it has less impact.
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