Anxiety is an emotion that everybody feels from time to time. It can be a way to respond to a stressful situation such as exams, moving into another home, traveling, or meeting a deadline. However, for individuals who have an anxiety disorder, it can be an emotion that can overcome them without any valid reason. Due to this, their daily lives are significantly affected. This condition can also change the relationships that they have with other people.
There are several types of anxiety disorders. All of them are dangerous and real medical conditions. These include Social anxiety disorder, general anxiety disorder, selective mutism, and panic disorder.
According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 13 people around the world suffers from anxiety. In the United States alone, it affects 40 million adults who are 18 years old and above. That statistics significantly grow by 18.1% annually.
Identifying whether you have a symptom of anxiety disorder can be tricky because anxiety is a normal human emotion. This is why, in this article, we will be elaborating on the symptoms of anxiety disorders. This way, if you feel like you have some of the listed symptoms below, you can immediately seek proper medical attention.
1. Irrational Fears
Most people who have anxiety disorder show irrational fears. These irrational fears are also known as phobias. It manifests when people show extreme concern over an object, place, or situation. People who experience this will not be able to function appropriately when faced with the object of their phobia properly.
Many of those who suffer from irrational fears acknowledge that there no logic behind that feeling. However, they still seem to have an uncontrollable reaction to their phobias despite that. This is why many of them tailor their lives to avoid particular objects or scenarios.
An example of this is Coulrophobia, also known as the fear of clowns. People who suffer it are adamant about never attending birthday parties or parades to avoid an encounter with clowns. However, some of them acknowledge that there is nothing scary about a clown, but they still have extreme fear around them.
2. Avoiding Social Interactions
One of the most known symptoms of anxiety disorder is avoiding social interaction. Often, people with this disorder feel fearful and anxious about upcoming social events. They start to overthink about what other people say and the scrutiny that they might face. This then exaggerates their worry.
People with an anxiety disorder are often quiet and shy when they are in groups. They can also seem uncomfortable and stressed in places where there are plenty of people.
Excessive worry one of the reasons why people who suffer from anxiety become socially reclusive. They fear the possibilities that can happen outside their comfort zones. They also worry about how people view their appearances, actions, and opinions. That is why it becomes a lot easier for them to stay in their safe spaces.
3. Panic Attacks
This another common symptom of anxiety disorder. This is also one of the scariest symptoms not only to the one experiencing it but also to those around them. Panic attacks can present in many different ways. However, people who experience this usually feel like their heart is pounding, and they cannot breathe. It can also be accompanied by sweating and shaking. Here are the three kinds of panic attacks:
● Spontaneous Panic Attacks
This panic attack is characterized by happening randomly. There is no specific trigger that causes it. This can even occur when a patient is asleep.
● Situational Panic Attacks
There are panic attacks that can happen due to triggers. These triggers can either be from things, animals, or situations. This type of panic attack is prevalent for patients who have phobias or illogical fears.
● Predisposed Panic Attacks
This type of panic attack is associated with being triggered by a particular situation. This means that a person has a higher tendency to have a panic attack in specific scenarios.
The occurrence of a panic attack can be dangerous. A patient may faint during an episode, which can result in physical injuries. There are times family members and patients who have panic attacks do not know what to do. This often results in a panic attack worsening. This is why it is essential to be educated about it and remain calm during an episode.
Most people who suffer from anxiety disorder also have insomnia. Studies show a high correlation between the two of them. This symptom can persist in many different ways. One way is the inability to fall asleep while another is continually waking up in the middle of sleep. Either way, this symptom significantly affect how a human function.
Sleep is vital in staying healthy. When you sleep, the body sweeps away toxins and recharge. Rest is also one of the factors that regulate hormones — making sure that they are balanced and working. Without sleep, the patient becomes predisposed to getting other medical issues. Lack of sleep can also result in feeling lightheaded, nauseous, and unable to concentrate throughout the day.
5. Stiff Muscles
The constant feeling of muscle stiffness is an indication of anxiety disorder. It is not yet fully known whether it is anxiety that causes muscle stiffness or vice versa. However, it is typically true that if you have muscle stiffness, you also have anxiety.
Excessive irritability can be noticed in patients who suffer from an anxiety disorder. Usually, they are even more irritable when their anxiety is at a high level. This manifests when they show signs of being in a negative mood, frustrated or aggravated over simple situations.
This symptom significantly affects how patients with anxiety are perceived by society. Due to this, they are often considered rude or impolite. However, that is not their intention at all. It is just something that they have no control over.
7. Lack of Focus
Recent research showed that ⅔ of the 157 teens and children who were diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder had issues concentrating. Meanwhile, another research on adults who were diagnosed with the same condition showed that 90% of them had difficulties concentrating.
This is because anxiety disorders disrupt working memory. This memory is responsible for short-term information. This is also why those who have been suffering from anxiety disorder show decreased performance in work and academics.
Excessive tiredness that remains even after a long rest is a prevalent symptom of anxiety disorder. For people with anxiety, this can be a result of constant stress and lack of sleep.
This is also an unexpected symptom of anxiety as it is often linked to arousal and hyperactivity. The feeling of fatigue is also usually an indication of an upcoming anxiety attack.
This is a more common symptom with teens and children who have an anxiety disorder. You can notice that a person is experiencing restlessness when they show signs of being on the edge or uncomfortable. Restlessness is also often described as having a creepy-crawly or pins and needle sensation around the body.
Agitation refers to a state of nervousness where a person may show signs of outbursts or impulsive behaviors. This is a common anxiety symptom because the patient’s sympathetic nervous system goes out of control.
This a result of your brain falsely signaling the body to have a fight or flight reaction. It sends more blood to your muscles to prepare to fight or run. Agitation can also manifest as difficulty in staying still, or shuffling and pacing around.
11. Too Much Worry
Excessive worrying is a typical symptom of people with an anxiety disorder. Although they sometimes acknowledge that their worry has no valid logical reasons, they still cannot stop worrying. People of anxiety disorder also worry about all sorts of things for an extended amount of time.
This makes it difficult for patients to concentrate on their daily tasks. They also lose the ability to focus and socialize among peers. However, unlike phobias, worries usually stem from ordinary situations, not triggers.
12. Chest Pains
Often, patients with anxiety experience chest pains. They are sometimes manifest as tightness or pins and needles sensation around the chest area. This is a psychical reaction to the body feeling worried, concern, or fearful. The duration of these chest pains varies on the state of anxiety. Most people who feel anxious have a constant feeling of chest pains as well.
It is also possible that chest pains experienced during anxiety can induce a heart attack. People who have existing heart issues are more prone to this.
13. Shortness of Breath
There is a long association in the change of breathing pattern if you have an anxiety disorder. You may experience shortness of breath, especially when you are experiencing a panic attack. This is why if you notice, people try to control their breathing with a paper bag.
The shortness of breath can last the entire duration of a panic attack. Due to this, the blood’s carbon dioxide levels decrease, which may cause the patient to faint.
Stress and anxiety are closely related. When a person continually worries about certain things, their bodies go into a state of fear. A person who is under stress shows signs of headaches, dry skin, bags under the eyes, and upset stomach.
Stress can be just as dangerous as anxiety. This is why it is essential to manage it properly. Not doing so will severely aggravate anxieties.
15. Gastrointestinal Issues
Several GI issues have been considered as symptoms of anxiety disorders. Here are some of them:
● IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome
IBS is a condition that concerns the large intestine. The signs of it commonly include constipation or diarrhea, gas, bloating, abdominal pain, and cramps. Aside from anxiety disorders, this GI issue can also be a symptom of other medical problems.
● GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease
GERD is a condition that affects the LES or Lower Esophageal Sphincter. It is the muscle between the stomach and the esophagus. Those who suffer from this condition show signs of feeling acid or heartburn.
16. Dry or Bad Taste in the Mouth
People who suffer from an anxiety disorder also sometimes show symptoms of dry mouth. This is because, as mentioned above, people with anxiety are susceptible to GI issues such as IBS and GERD. The body has a higher tendency to develop acid reflux. When this happens, the salivary glands are affected. This is why there is a dry sensation or a foul taste in the mouth. In some cases, this dry or bad taste in the mouth can lead to vomiting.
17. Psychogenic Tremors
During anxiety attacks, one of the predominant symptoms is muscle tremors or trembling. This is the body’s physical reaction to anxiousness. This also stimulates the fight or flight reaction when the body feels extreme worry or fears.
When psychogenic tremors occur, you lose the ability to control your hands. You can also notice that it is continuously shaking no matter how hard you try to stop it. Psychogenic tremors can also occur in the feet as well.
Even up to this day, mental illness is continued to be considered as a taboo. This is why people who suffer from anxiety disorders are often left undiagnosed and untreated. They are then perceived by society as odd and rude.
The way to solve this problem is for us to educate ourselves with the condition. The more we understand about it, the more we can become emphatic to the people who are suffering from the condition. Anxiety disorders can cause a lot of adverse side effects in a human’s body and social life; however, it is treatable.
By knowing the symptoms mention above, you can quickly determine whether a person is experiencing anxiety or an anxiety disorder. You can try and check if you have several of the said symptoms. If you do, it is best to seek professional medical attention to mitigate your suffering. If you notice such symptoms on your friends and family, sympathetic to their condition because dealing with anxiety alone is not easy.