Are you struggling with anxiety? Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. However, people who suffer from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks do not experience normal levels of these feelings with the same intensity. It has become a buzzword for many who have heard these terms but do not totally understand them.
We will discuss what anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks are, and how to recognize the signs, symptoms, and various types. It can help you find the relief you need in life from these disorders.
What exactly is an anxiety disorder?
The human mind and body have a brilliant design. When we sense danger, our body has an automatic fight-or-flight response to the situation triggering you. This reaction occurs when you feel under pressure, are facing a difficult situation, or feel threatened. The anxiety you feel is intense, and it makes you more alert in the face of danger so you can respond adequately for self-preservation.
Typically, feeling anxious is not a bad thing. It can help you spring into action at the right time and help you resolve the issue that is possibly putting you in a challenging position. However, someone with an anxiety disorder feels this more intensely and more regularly through even the simplest of situations.
When all the fears and worries in your life begin to interfere with your daily life, you have likely crossed the threshold of usual anxiety and crossed into the land of anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders encapsulate several related conditions instead of a singular disorder. It is why the symptoms can vary drastically from one person to another. If one person suffers from intense anxiety attacks that hit them out of the blue, another might start feeling highly anxious at the thought of picking up a phone call from someone they don’t like talking to.
Someone else might struggle with intrusive thoughts when they are talking to someone they love. Another might be experiencing a life that is nothing more than an intense and unending state of worrying about everything.
In all its forms, anxiety disorders essentially illicit an overwhelming sense of worry or fear that does not truly reflect the situation at hand.
Recognizing anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks
Suffering from anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks can keep you from living your life to the full. You should know that you are not alone in this. Anxiety disorders are some of the most frequent mental health issues, and they can be treated.
The first step is to recognize your problem for what it is. Once you understand your issue, you can take measures to mitigate the symptoms and take back control of your life.
If you are wondering whether you suffer from anxiety disorders, consider the following signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders:
- Are you constantly on edge, worried, or feeling tense?
- Does your anxiety keep you from fulfilling responsibilities to yourself, work, and others?
- Do you continuously have fears that you understand are not rational, but you cannot shake them off?
- Do you believe something terrible will happen if things do not happen in a specified way?
- Do you avoid regular everyday situations because they make you anxious?
- Do you feel like there is always danger lurking around the corner?
Common symptoms of anxiety disorders
The symptoms and signs of anxiety disorders go beyond feeling worried or fearful for seemingly irrational reasons. They also entail emotional and physical symptoms, including:
- Trouble concentrating on things
- Feeling easily irritable
- Feeling like your mind is empty
- Feeling very jumpy
- Nausea or a generally upset stomach
- Frequent diarrhea or the need to urinate
- Shortness of breath
- Shaking or trembling
Anxiety disorders can manifest in the form of physical symptoms. Due to the physical symptoms, many people can confuse their anxiety disorder for a medical illness. It ends up with people spending significant time making hospital trips before they finally recognize their problem.
What are anxiety attacks?
Anxiety attacks or panic attacks are episodes that you experience which are full of fear and panic. These episodes can occur suddenly with little or no warning. The reasons for suffering from anxiety attacks are not always clear. Sometimes, the trigger is obvious and glaring you in the face, but they can occur without any apparent reason.
Panic attacks can last for anything between a few minutes to half an hour. During the episode, you can feel terror and fear to a drastic degree, from feeling out of control to being convinced that you are going to die. The physical symptoms of anxiety attacks are so intense that some people even think that they are suffering from a heart attack.
Symptoms of an anxiety attack can include, but are not limited to:
- Feeling like you will pass out
- Intense trembling or shaking
- Feeling detached from reality
- Nausea and severe stomach cramps
- Trouble breathing
- Chest pain or heart palpitations
- Feeling like you are going insane or losing control
- An overwhelming surge of panic
Different types of anxiety disorders and the symptoms
While individual cases can differ drastically, anxiety disorders and conditions closely related can be categorized as the following:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Constant worrying and fears distract you from regular daily activities. You may also always feel like something terrible will happen, but you do not know why. People suffering from GAD are prone to feeling constantly worried, and it can result in physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, an upset stomach, and insomnia.
Panic disorder and panic attacks
Panic disorder is defined as the condition where you can repeatedly experience panic attacks and are constantly in fear of having another episode. If you have this disorder, you are likely to try and avoid confined or crowded spaces.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
It is defined as unwanted behaviors or thoughts a person can experience beyond their control. If you feel overwhelmingly obsessed with certain things and uncontrollable compulsions like washing your hands again and again, or worrying that you have to do certain things a particular number of times, otherwise something will go wrong, you are likely suffering from OCD.
Phobias are typically unrealistic fears of particular objects, activities, situations, or anything that does not reflect any real danger. Common fears can include fear of height, water, or different animals.
Social anxiety disorder
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder always fear being seen negatively by others or of public humiliation, regardless of whether the situation warrants it.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Common in people in the aftermath of experiencing a traumatic or life-threatening event. It can include experiencing nightmares or flashbacks about the incident, being hypervigilant, easily becoming startled, avoiding situations that remind you of the traumatic event, or detaching from others.
Separation anxiety disorder
Separation anxiety is something everybody can experience during the early stages of growing up. However, if the anxiety of being separated from someone is intense and does not go away, you might experience separation anxiety disorder. Children who suffer from it are full of fear from the very thought of being separated from their parents.
Seeking help for Anxiety Disorders
Not everybody who is anxious most of the time suffers from anxiety disorders. You might be feeling anxious due to being overworked, too much caffeine, an unhealthy lifestyle, or stress due to situations at work or home.
You should use your knowledge of the symptoms of anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders to recognize whether you are suffering from them and what the nature of your problem is. While there are several self-help strategies you can use to cope with them, there is also professional help available to help you treat the issues.
Professional help can entail anything from cognitive behavior therapy, which helps you identify the root cause of the negative thoughts and dealing with them, to exposure therapy that helps you face your fears head-on in a safe environment. If your anxiety is severe enough to interfere with your ability to function normally, medication can also help relieve some symptoms.
If you suffer from anxiety attacks and disorders, it is always recommended that you seek help from a qualified professional so you can work on a plan of action to deal with it adequately. Be sure to research your options carefully and work towards finding the solution best suited for you. It is possible to regain control of your life, but it all depends on you doing your homework and finding the right solution.
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