It is natural to feel anxious from time to time. People with anxiety disorders, on the other hand, usually experience strong, excessive, and persistent concern and fear about ordinary events. Anxiety disorder signs sometimes feature recurring episodes of acute anxiety, fear, or terror that peak within minutes (panic attacks).
Anxiety and panic disrupt daily activities, are difficult to regulate, are out of proportion to the actual danger, and can linger for a long period. To escape unpleasant feelings, you may avoid places or circumstances. Symptoms may appear in childhood or adolescence and persist throughout adulthood.
Generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), particular phobias, and separation anxiety disorder are all examples of anxiety disorders. Let’s go through most signs of anxiety disorder under these examples.
Symptoms and Signs of Anxiety Disorder
The following are signs of anxiety disorder under different types.
#1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by a continuous sense of anxiety or phobia that interferes with daily life. It is not the same as having occasional worries or experiencing anxiety as a result of difficult life situations. GAD patients experience frequent anxiety for months, if not years.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder signs include:
- Feeling restless or tense
- Being easily exhausted and having trouble concentrating
- Being agitated
- Experiencing headaches, muscular aches, stomachaches, or other unexplainable pains
- Difficulty in controlling worries
- Sleeping issues, such as trouble falling or staying asleep
#2. Panic Disorder
These attacks are frequent and unpredictable in people with panic disorder. Panic attacks are brief bouts of acute dread, discomfort, or a sense of losing control, even when there is no obvious threat or trigger. Not everyone who has a panic attack develops a panic disorder.
A person may feel the following signs during a panic anxiety disorder:
- Heart pounding or racing
- Shivering or tingling
- Chest ache
- Fear of impending disaster
- Feelings of being powerless
People suffering from panic disorder frequently worry about when the next attack will occur and actively strive to avoid future attacks by avoiding places, events, or behaviors associated with panic attacks. Panic attacks can happen as frequently as several times per day or as infrequently as a few times per year.
#3. Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is characterized by an intense and persistent fear of being observed and judged by others. People suffering from social anxiety disorder may experience severe fear of social situations that appear to be beyond their control. This fear may prevent some people from going to work, attending school, or performing daily tasks.
People suffering from social anxiety disorder may experience the following signs:
- shivering, blushing, or sweating
- Heart pounding or racing
- Body rigidity or speaking in an extremely soft voice
- Difficulty making eye contact or being around strangers
- Self-consciousness or concern that others may evaluate them negatively
#4. Phobia-related Disorders
A phobia is a strong aversion or fear of a specific thing or event. Although being concerned in some situations is understandable, the anxiety that people with phobias experience is out of proportion to the actual risk posed by the situation or object.
People that have phobia-related anxiety disorders experience the following signs:
- Actively avoid the scary object or scenario.
- When confronted with the feared thing or scenario, experience acute anxiety right away.
- With extreme anxiety, endure inescapable objects and situations.
Phobias and phobia-related diseases are classified into numerous categories:
Specific Phobias (also known as simple phobias):
As the name implies, those who have a specific phobia have a strong aversion to or concern about certain objects or circumstances. Specific phobias include, for example, the fear of:
- Spiders, dogs, and snakes are examples of specific creatures.
- Getting injections
Agoraphobia is characterized by an acute fear of two or more of the following situations:
- Being out in the open
- Being in confined spaces
- Making use of public transportation
- Being in a throng or standing in line
- Being alone outside of the house
People with agoraphobia frequently avoid these circumstances, in part because they believe leaving will be difficult or impossible if they experience panic-like reactions or other unpleasant symptoms. Individuals suffering from the most severe form of agoraphobia may become housebound.
Separation anxiety disorder
While it is commonly assumed that separation anxiety affects primarily children, adults can also be diagnosed with the illness. People with separation anxiety disorder are afraid of being apart from the people they care about. They frequently worry that something bad may happen to their connection figures when they are separated. This dread causes individuals to avoid separation from their attachment figures as well as being alone. Separation anxiety patients may have nightmares about being separated from attachment figures or feel physical symptoms when separation occurs or is expected.
When Should You See a Doctor?
Consult your doctor if:
- You believe you are worrying excessively, which is interfering with your career, relationships, or other aspects of your life.
- You are bothered by and unable to manage your fear, worry, or anxiety.
- If you are having suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
- You are depressed, have a problem with alcohol or drugs, or have other mental health issues in addition to anxiety.
- You believe your anxiety is related to a physical health issue.
Your concerns may not go away on their own, and if you do not seek help, they may worsen over time. Consult your doctor or a mental health professional before your anxiety worsens. It is easier to treat if you seek care as soon as possible.
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety disorders are caused by unknown factors. Life events, such as traumatic occurrences, appear to exacerbate anxiety disorders in persons who are already anxious. Inherited characteristics can also play a role.
Anxiety may be linked to an underlying health issue in some persons. Anxiety symptoms and signs are sometimes the first signals of a medical ailment. If your doctor feels that your anxiety is being caused by a medical condition, he or she may conduct tests to look for evidence of a problem.
Medical conditions that can be connected to anxiety include:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hyperthyroidism and other thyroid issues
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma are examples of respiratory illnesses.
- Misuse or withdrawal from drugs
- Withdrawal from benzodiazepines, anti-anxiety medicines, or other medications
- Irritable bowel syndrome or chronic pain
- Rare tumors that secrete specific fight-or-flight hormones
Anxiety can sometimes be a side effect of certain drugs.
Meanwhile, your anxiety could also be caused by an underlying medical issue if:
- You have no biological relatives (such as a parent or sibling) that suffer from an anxiety disorder.
- You did not suffer from an anxiety disorder as a child.
- You don’t avoid particular things or situations because you’re afraid of them.
- You experience a sudden onset of anxiety that appears to be unconnected to life events, and you have no previous history of anxiety.
The following things may raise your chances of having an anxiety disorder:
Children who have experienced abuse or trauma, or who have witnessed horrific events, are more likely to develop an anxiety condition later in life. Anxiety problems can develop in adults who have experienced a stressful event.
#2. Illness-Related Stress
When you have a health problem or a serious illness, you may be concerned about your treatment and your future.
#3. Stress Accumulation
A major incident or a series of lesser stressful life events, such as a family tragedy, professional stress, or continuing financial worry, can cause excessive anxiety.
Certain personality types are more vulnerable to anxiety problems than others.
#5. Other mental health problems
Anxiety disorders are frequently co-occurring with other mental health conditions, such as depression.
#6. Having a blood family who suffers from an anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorders can be passed down via families.
#7. Alcohol or drugs
Anxiety can be caused or exacerbated by drug or alcohol use, misuse, or withdrawal.
Therapies and Treatments
Psychotherapy, medicine, or combination are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. There are numerous ways to manage anxiety, and you should consult with a health care provider to determine which treatment is best for you.
People suffering from anxiety problems can benefit from psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy.” Psychotherapy must be directed at your individual fears and suited to your requirements in order to be effective.
Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one type of psychotherapy that can help persons suffering from anxiety disorders. It teaches people alternate ways of thinking, acting, and reacting to circumstances in order to make them feel less nervous and scared. CBT has been extensively researched and is considered the gold standard in psychotherapy.
Exposure therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that is used to treat anxiety problems. This treatment focuses on tackling the fears that underpin an anxiety disorder in order to let people engage in previously avoided activities. Exposure therapy is occasionally used in conjunction with relaxation exercises.
Therapy for Acceptance and Commitment
Acceptance and commitment therapy is another treatment option for some anxiety disorders (ACT). When it comes to negative thoughts, ACT approaches them differently than CBT. It employs techniques such as mindfulness and goal setting to alleviate discomfort and anxiety. Because ACT is a younger form of psychotherapy treatment than CBT, there is less research on its effectiveness.
Medication can not cure anxiety disorders, although it can assist to alleviate their symptoms. Anxiety medication can be prescribed by a health care professional, such as a psychiatrist or primary care physician. Some states also permit specialized training psychologists to prescribe psychiatric drugs. Antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), and beta-blockers are the most commonly utilized groups of medications to treat anxiety disorders.
They are commonly used to treat depression, but they can also help with anxiety problems. Antidepressants may help your brain utilize specific hormones that influence your mood or stress better. You may need to try multiple antidepressant medications before finding one that relieves your symptoms while causing manageable side effects.
It can take several weeks for an antidepressant to begin functioning, so it is critical to give the medication a chance before drawing conclusions about its efficacy. If you start taking antidepressants, do not discontinue taking them without consulting a doctor. Your provider can assist you in gradually and securely decreasing your dose. Stopping them suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms.
Children, teenagers, and adults under the age of 25 may report increased suicidal thoughts or behavior when using antidepressant drugs, particularly in the first few weeks or when the dose is adjusted. As a result, people of all ages taking antidepressants should be constantly monitored, particularly during the initial few weeks of medication.
Medications for Anxiety
Anxiety, panic attacks, and intense fear and worry can all be alleviated with anti-anxiety drugs. Benzodiazepines are the most often used anti-anxiety drugs. Although benzodiazepines are occasionally employed as first-line therapies for GAD, they offer both advantages and disadvantages.
Benzodiazepines are helpful at relieving anxiety and act faster than antidepressant treatments. However, some people develop a tolerance to these drugs and require increasing doses to have the same benefit. Some people grow completely reliant on them.
To minimize these issues, doctors frequently prescribe benzodiazepines for brief periods of time.
When people stop using benzodiazepines abruptly, they may experience withdrawal symptoms or their anxiety may return. As a result, benzodiazepines should be gradually taken off. Your provider can assist you in gradually and securely decrease your dose.
Although beta-blockers are most commonly used to treat high blood pressure, they can also help with physical signs of anxiety such as racing heart, shaking, trembling, and flushing. When taken over brief periods of time, these drugs can help people keep physical symptoms under control. They can also be taken “as needed” to decrease acute anxiety, including preventing some types of predictable performance anxiety.
Choosing the Best Medicine
Some medicines may be more effective for specific types of anxiety disorders, so people should consult with their doctor to determine which prescription is best for them. Caffeine, several over-the-counter cold medicines, illicit drugs, and herbal supplements may increase anxiety disorder symptoms or interact with prescribed medication. People should consult with a health care provider to understand which substances are safe and which should be avoided.
Choosing the proper medicine, dosage, and treatment plan should be done under the supervision of a specialist and should be based on a person’s needs and medical situation. Several medications may be tried by you and your provider before you locate the perfect one.
Some persons with anxiety disorders may benefit from joining a self-help or support group and sharing their challenges and successes with others. There are both in-person and online support groups. Any advice you receive from a support group member, however, should be handled with caution and should not be used in place of treatment recommendations from a health care provider.
Signs of Anxiety Disorder FAQs
What triggers anxiety?
Difficult childhood, adolescent, or adult events are common triggers for anxiety disorders. Stress and trauma at a young age are likely to have a particularly large impact. Physical or emotional abuse are examples of experiences that might lead to anxiety difficulties.
Can anxiety be cured?
Anxiety is not totally treatable because it is a normal element of the human experience. However, anxiety should be a transient emotion that passes once the stressor or trigger has passed.
What's the difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety becomes an issue when it becomes overwhelming or uncontrolled and appears unexpectedly. Anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses that have a significant impact on your life. To escape worry, people may avoid going about their normal life.