Helpguide International explains that “anxiety is a normal reaction to danger, the body’s automatic fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a challenging situation, such as a job interview, exam, or first date.” Basically, anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress. Anxiety is often unavoidable, as every individual will experience stress at some point in his or her life. Further, although its symptoms are often unpleasant, experiencing anxiety is not necessarily a bad thing as it can help an individual remain alert and focused. However, there is a big difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association there are several different types of anxiety disorders, some of which include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), separation anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, and interfere with one’s ability to function optimally in one’s everyday life.
Signs and Symptoms
In order to gauge whether or not you are experiencing anxiety it is helpful to be aware of common signs and symptoms. The Mayo Clinic provides examples, some of which include the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Dry mouth
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Chest pain
- Hyperventilation (breathing rapidly)
- Muscle aches and pains
- Feeling nervous, restless and/ or tense
- Loss of concentration
- Sleep disturbances
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Symptoms can range in severity and duration. It is important to note that while anxiety disorders are highly common, not every individual that experiences anxiety will inevitably go on to develop and anxiety disorder. The exact cause for developing an anxiety disorder remains unknown. Research suggests that it is likely due to a combination of contributing factors such as psychological, environmental, genetic, and developmental factors.
Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder?
Consider the following questions, and if you identify with any of them it could be indicative of an anxiety disorder, and it may be advantageous to seek professional guidance:
- Does your anxiety interfere with your daily life (e.g. school, work, family responsibilities, etc.)?
- Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things are not done a certain way?
- Do you experience unshakable, irrational fears?
- Do you feel like danger and/ or catastrophe is lingering around every corner?
- Do you experience sudden, unexpected anxiety attacks?
- Do you avoid everyday situations and/ or activities because they cause you anxiety?
In order to obtain the most effective treatment, it is crucial to be thoroughly evaluated and diagnosed by a qualified mental health professional.
The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above as a means to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.