Each of us can occasionally experience anxiety. This can be triggered by anything such as a problem at work, or an upcoming test, or an important decision. Anxiety disorders are different. They can cause so much distress that they can interfere with your ability to lead a normal life.
For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling.
Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
Symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
What Are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
People with generalized anxiety disorder are extremely worried even when there’s little or no reason to worry. They’re very anxious about just getting through the day.
- Panic Disorder
- People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly without a warning.
- Symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Chest pain, heart palpitations (strong or irregular heartbeats)
- A feeling of choking, which may make the person feel like he or she is having a heart attack.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Also called social phobia, social anxiety disorder involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.
People with social anxiety disorder tend to:
- Be very anxious about being with people and have a hard time talking to them
- Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed
- Be very afraid that other people will judge them
- Stay away from places where there are people
- Have a hard time making and keeping friends
- Blush, sweat, or tremble around other people
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders may be caused by problems in the brain circuits that regulate fear and other emotions. Severe or long-lasting stress can change the way nerve cells transmit information from one region of the brain to another.
Other studies have shown that people with certain anxiety disorders have changes in brain structures that control memories linked with strong emotions. Anxiety disorders run in families.
Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which can mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse.
Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented?
To reduce acute anxiety attacks:
Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Some can increase anxiety symptoms.
Seek counselling and support if you start to regularly feel anxious with no apparent cause.
Certain kinds of counselling have been found to be very helpful for anxiety.
I offer counseling that can help you change your thinking patterns that support the anxiety. This will help you change the way you react to anxiety-provoking situations.
With this support, many with anxiety disorders can lead normal fulfilling lives.