Feeling stressed out and anxious is perfectly normal. Every person has felt that way at least once in their lifetime. But feeling anxious in some situations and having an actual disorder are different things. If you think you have some of the anxiety symptoms but aren’t quite sure, keep reading and find out all the information you need to know about this condition, as well as where to get support and help.
What Is the Anxiety Disorder?
What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety? We deal with these kinds of feelings daily. When you are under a lot of stress at work, at home, or even in school, you can feel nervous, fatigued, scared, or restless. Feeling nervous or agitated is a normal human reaction to difficult or dangerous situations and can be good for us. But when a person feels anxious for a long time or at a higher intensity, we call this anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders – From Panic Disorder to Social Phobias
People with these disorders have intense feelings of worry about everyday activities. They feel irrational fears about the future. These kinds of feelings interfere with daily activities and are difficult to control. Here is a summary of the five most common types:
- Generalized anxiety disorder – GAD is a chronic feeling of worry and tension even if there are no events that provoked these feelings.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder – OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts and repetitive actions.
- Panic disorder – is defined as sudden and repetitive episodes of intense fear followed by physical signs such as chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and abdominal distress.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD occurs after a trauma or some other form of a terrifying event.
- Social phobia – We all know what phobias are (an irrational fear of certain things like spiders or germs). But what are social phobias? This is when people feel extreme agitation and excessive self-consciousness around other people or while performing certain social activities (fear of speaking in formal or informal situations, eating or drinking around other people, etc.).
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
When talking about What are the main signs of anxiety? What anxiety can do to the body? What are the worst symptoms of anxiety?, we have to make a distinction between physical and psychological signs. And, of course, different types of conditions cause various issues.
Some groups of people are more at risk of developing these issues than others. For instance, women are more susceptible to these disorders than men, or if you are a woman of color or a member of the LGBTQ+, your risk for developing some sort of condition is much higher than with white straight men.
If we talk about symptoms of severe anxiety, we are talking about the impact on a physical level and mental health. Some of them can lead to illness or increase any existing conditions. This is why it is crucial to be open to seeing a professional for treatment if you frequently experience any of the following:
- Shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Headache and chronic pain
- Feeling weak
Anxiety Symptoms in Women
These issues are familiar to almost every woman in the world. Women are more at risk of developing them than men. We deal with stress and responsibilities at home, at work, with children, and in social circumstances, so we are more at risk of developing these conditions. And to be honest, there are still many “ceilings” we need to break in the male-dominated business environment. Most women still have to deal with a lot of discrimination in their jobs, at school, at social events, and at home.
If you are a woman of color, not only do you have to deal with gender stereotypes, but racial ones, too. This is why social anxiety is common among women who are minorities. Being a woman of color means you have to struggle with daily discrimination and stereotypes, which creates a sense of alienation from the majority population, leading to feelings of discomfort and agitation. It is no wonder that therapy for black girls and women is becoming more sought-after, and the number of women of color therapists has been increasing in recent years. More and more black woman therapists are educated in dealing with this particular matter, helping young girls and women of color overcome obstacles and providing them with the necessary support.
This is the most common symptom. Excessive worrying doesn’t mean that you are concerned about everyday problems, but that you are worrying so much that you cannot think about anything else. When this symptom appears daily and lasts for a long time, it can mean you have GAD. Worrying can be so severe and intrusive that it prevents you from accomplishing basic daily tasks.
This symptom appears because your brain believes you are in some danger, and it sends a signal to your body to be alert. Your nervous system goes into overdrive, which leads to physical reactions like an increased pulse, sweaty palms, dry mouth, and shaky hands. Your brain prepares your body to run, so your blood pressure is higher, and blood from your digestive system is shot out.
This symptom is the most common symptom of people who have panic disorder. During a panic attack, your body feels extreme fear and a sense of losing control. Your heart rate is high, you can experience trouble breathing and chest pain, accompanied by sweating and nausea.
Feeling of Restlessness
Restlessness is a common symptom, especially in teens and children. It is a feeling like you are on edge and have an urge to change your position. This symptom is most common in children, and it can be a red flag for doctors to make further diagnoses. If you feel restless for the majority of the day or for a long period of time, this can be a sign of some of the conditions we talk about.
Causes of Disorders and Major Risk Factors
The causes of these mental health conditions are not quite understood – numerous events can lead to anxious feelings. Most common are traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, illness, loss of work, and violent events. Other risk factors are stress build-up, personality, drug or alcohol abuse, and other mental health issues. Also, if these stress and anxiety symptoms run in the family, you might have a predisposition.
Treatment and Therapy
Depending on which type of condition you have, the treatment can be adjusted. These disorders are usually treated with psychotherapy, and sometimes medication. An example of the type of therapy that your therapist can do is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT teaches a person to change their behavior and to act and react differently in stress-triggered situations. It teaches people to develop social skills and to learn how to act around others.
Medication can’t cure these disorders, but it can keep them in check – it will relieve some of the problems you’re experiencing. This is why therapy is significant in treating these conditions because therapy will teach you how to use all the things you learned in your sessions in everyday life and stressful situations.
How to Deal With a Panic Attack at Home
If you are alone at home and having an attack, the first thing you need to do is to start breathing deeply – inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Recognize that you are having a panic attack and not a heart attack, and remind yourself that this will pass soon. Many people report that focusing on dull and repetitive things may help, such as counting from 100 down in sevens or listing everything blue you can think of.
Resources at Your Disposal – What Is ADAA?
If you are wondering what the symptoms of anxiety and depression are and how to make an informed decision about your treatment, you can turn to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. There, you will find information about symptoms of stress and anxiety and how to make a distinction between the two. Also, you can find help, treatment advice, the right care, and support groups.
Who to Call When Feeling Anxiety Symptoms
Now that you know the signs, we should also talk about prevention measures. The most crucial one is that, if you feel some of the symptoms for a more extended time, you should seek professional treatment. When these things are not treated on time, they can become worse.
Women tend to mask these feelings when they are not so pronounced – especially women of color or African American women because society imposes a stereotype about “strong black women” who are not supposed to show any vulnerability. This is why it is vital to seek the right kind of help on time. There are numerous black women therapists and therapists for women of color who can understand these specific stressors that women of color face daily. So if you feel any of the things listed above, make sure to contact a professional for help. Because if you don’t take care of your mental health, no one else will.