Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

A general term used to describe a group of disorders that bring about intense feelings of apprehension, nervousness, and fear, anxiety disorders can greatly affect how a person feels and behaves on a daily basis. When the presence of anxiety is mild it can be unsettling, but when it is severe, the presence of anxiety can be debilitating and create a significant amount of distress for an individual. If these disorders are not properly treated it can lead to serious disruption in a person’s life and can prevent an individual from living the happy life that is deserved. Those with anxiety disorders may find that they are not able to keep up with the demands of their career and may begin to experience increased conflict among friends and family.

The feelings associated with anxiety disorders not only interfere with day-to-day activities, but can be extremely difficult to control. Fortunately, there are a number of effective treatment options available that can greatly improve the lives of those who are battling anxiety symptoms.

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Statistics

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are some of the most common mental health conditions that exist. This group of mental health conditions are known to affect individuals of all ages and from all backgrounds. More specifically, it is estimated that 40 million adults over the age of 18 currently meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors for Anxiety Disorders

While the exact cause is unknown, researchers and mental health professionals agree that there are a number of contributing factors and other influences that can lead to the development of an anxiety disorder. Consider the following:

Genetic: Years of research have determined that anxiety disorders run in families, which means that if you have a blood relative who has an anxiety disorder, you are more likely to develop one yourself.

Environmental: Mental health professionals have come to realize that certain life experiences, such as traumatic events or persistent stress, can trigger the onset of an anxiety disorder in those individuals who are already prone to becoming anxious. This is especially true for those who lack the effective coping skills and a strong support network to help them through stressful life situations.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Exposure to chronic stress, violence, and/or trauma
  • Low socioeconomic status
  • Lack of effective coping skills
  • Inadequate support system
  • Experiencing abrupt life changes
  • Underlying health issues
  • Family history of anxiety or other mental illnesses

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

The signs and symptoms present are going to depend upon the specific anxiety disorder that an individual is struggling with, as well as a number of individual characteristics. Some of the following are examples of some of the more common symptoms displayed by those with anxiety disorders:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Restlessness or pacing
  • Repetitive or ritualistic behaviors
  • Avoidance of certain people, places, or situations
  • Procrastination
  • Exaggerated startle response

Physical symptoms:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Labored breathing
  • Tension in muscles
  • Stomachaches
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Appetite changes
  • Inability to fall or stay asleep
  • Frequent urination as a result of ongoing nervousness

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Detached from one’s surroundings
  • Impaired memory
  • Cyclical thinking
  • Compulsions
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Ritualistic thinking
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking of anything but the present worry
  • Fleeting ideas
  • Depersonalization

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Unpredictable mood
  • Ongoing nervousness
If you feel that you are in crisis, or are having thoughts about hurting yourself or others, please call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room immediately.

Effects of Anxiety Disorders

When someone is struggling with an anxiety disorder it does much more than just make him or her worry. In fact it can lead to disruption is many different areas of a person’s life. When not properly treated the following long-term effects have been known to occur:

  • Overall poor quality of life
  • Conflict within interpersonal relationships
  • Divorce
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Decline in work performance
  • Loss of employment
  • Substance abuse
  • Development of self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Suicide attempts

Co-Occurring Disorders

It is very common for someone with an anxiety disorder to struggle with the symptoms of an additional mental health disorder. The listed conditions are those that are often diagnosed at the same time an anxiety disorders:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Depressive disorders
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