Identifying Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Do you ever feel nervous, worried, or frightened? Of course, we all do. But have you ever felt this way when there really wasn’t anything threatening you? This kind of anxiety can make it difficult for sufferers to go about their daily lives, and it’s much more common than many think.

Anxiety disorders are the most common types of mental disorders in the United States. About 40 million adults suffer from some type of anxiety disorder - that’s about 18% of the population. These disorders involve frequent, severe periods of anxiety. Some of the basic symptoms of anxiety are:

Photo 1st person point of view, looking down at shoes and down at city streets below while standing on two thin planks of wood
  • Feelings of dread or apprehension
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or twitching muscles
  • Shortness of breath

While it’s natural to feel anxious now and then, if these feelings are persistent and interfere with everyday activities, they may be symptoms of a mental illness.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

About 6.8 million adults suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD can develop at any point in your life, though it is most likely to occur between childhood and middle age. Symptoms of GAD include excessive anxiety, expecting the worst for no obvious reason, and being overly concerned about money, health, and so on.

Patients with generalized anxiety disorder have trouble keeping their worried thoughts from spiraling out of control. This is true even though they often understand that their anxiety is out of proportion to any actual cause. Unfortunately, similar to other mental health illnesses, anxiety cannot be quelled with logic alone, and often requires a special touch in management and treatment.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by sudden periods of severe anxiety, also known as “panic attacks.” About 6 million people suffer from panic disorder and panic attacks. These attacks, which can last for about 10 minutes, include symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Intense dread
  • Chest pain
  • Choking/smothering feeling
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Tingling in the fingers/toes
  • Fear you are going to die

Outside of the panic attacks themselves, the major symptom of panic disorder is the fear of having more panic attacks. This fear leads many sufferers to avoid situations which could induce an attack and in which an attack would prove dangerous or embarrassing.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is the extreme fear of others judging you in public. More than just shyness, this disorder can seriously disrupt daily life, and it afflicts about 15 million adults in the U.S. The average age of onset is about 13 years.

Social anxiety disorder manifests as anxiety in one or more social situations, including:

  • Public speaking
  • Eating meals or drinking in public
  • Interacting such as on a date or at a party
  • Using public restrooms
  • Being the center of attention

Because of the severe anxiety these situations cause, many sufferers try to avoid them whenever possible. When they must engage in such social activities, they experience the typical symptoms of anxiety mentioned earlier.

If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, there is help available. The staff at Dickinson Center can help you deal with any of these disorders. Please contact us today with your questions, and let us help you address your concerns!