Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder
If you identify with any of the following seven signs and symptoms, and they just wont go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:
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What Is The ‘fight Flight Or Freeze’ Response
Like all animals, human beings have evolved ways to help us protect ourselves from danger. When we feel under threat our bodies react by releasing certain hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can be helpful. These hormones:
- make us feel more alert, so we can act faster
- make our hearts beat faster, quickly sending blood to where it’s needed most.
After we feel the threat has passed, our bodies release other hormones to help our muscles relax. This can sometimes cause us to shake.
This is commonly called the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response it’s something that happens automatically in our bodies, and we have no control over it.
“Going out of the house is a challenge because I have a fear of panicking and feel that I’m being watched or judged. It’s just horrible. I want to get help but I’m afraid of being judged.”
Coping Strategies That Can Help You Manage Normal Anxiety Or A Disorder
Whether your anxiety is situational or stems from a disorder, a few healthy coping strategies may help restore your sense of calm, says Bourne.
One oft-recommended technique is deep breathing, in which you slowly inhale through your nose so that your chest and belly expand and then slowly exhale through your mouth, according to Harvard Health. Repeat for a period of two to three minutes or longer.
Deep breathing helps relieve anxiety by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces the overall stress and anxiety you may be experiencing, explain Mayo Clinic experts. This, in turn, typically slows your heartbeat and stabilizes blood pressure. A focus on your breathing can help you let go of distracting thoughts or feelings, Harvard Health says.
Another common technique for reducing anxiety, notes Bourne, is to identify and replace fearful self-talk.
First, Bourne says, identify any fearful thoughts going through your head. Many of these thoughts are What if? statements, with examples including, What if I stutter? or What if they see me sweating?
Try replacing the fearful self-talk with calming and constructive statements, such as, Ive handled this before and can handle it again, or I can be anxious and still deal with this situation, he suggests.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, other ways to manage anxiety are:
- Identify your personal triggers.
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What Is Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorder can sometimes refer to generalized anxiety disorder or a group of mental illnesses that include generalized anxiety disorder. In reality, anxiety disorders can be classified in to six major types of disorder that provoke an imbalanced response to normal or non-stressors in a persons life.
Anxiety disorders can include:
Some of these disorders may have similar symptoms, like recurring intrusive thoughts, random onset, or a prolonged reaction time that can be difficult to recover from. Anxiety sufferers may experience common warning signs, like an increased heartbeat or blood pressure, nausea, labored breathing, and a sense of losing control.
Remember: anxiety isnt always a bad thing. We need the adrenaline rush anxiety can provide to stay alert or propel ourselves to action. However, when anxiety is constant, overwhelming, and interferes with your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder that will require professional treatment. To differentiate between common anxiety symptoms and an anxiety disorder, ask yourself:
- Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
- Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
- Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things dont happen a certain way?
- Do you avoid everyday situations or activities that cause you anxiety?
- Do you experience sudden or unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
Put Your Anxiety To Rest
Theres no way to completely cure any anxiety disorder, but the right combination of solutions can provide much-needed relief. In fact, treatment helps most people with anxiety reduce their symptoms enough to regain full control over their daily lives.
If youre ready to put your anxiety disorder to rest for good, we can help. our office in West Los Angeles, California, or to schedule a visit with one of our experienced mental health specialists.
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How Can I Get Help If I Think I Have An Anxiety Disorder
You should make an appointment to talk with your GP if you are worried about your symptoms. Or they are causing problems in your day to day life.
Your doctor will look at different things when deciding on your treatment such as the following.
- Your diagnosis and symptoms.
- Any other conditions you have.
- Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence .
Talking therapiesThe NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has made psychological therapy more available on the NHS. IAPT services mainly provide support for low to moderate anxiety and depression.
The service can be run by the local NHS Trust or a non-NHS agency, like a charity who work with the local Trust.
IAPT should be available in your area. You can often self-refer or ask your GP to refer you.
To find your local the IAPT service you can search online here:
You can also ask your GP or PALS service for details of local IAPT services.
You can get more information about:
- GP: What to expect from your GP by clicking here.
- Medication. Choice and managing problems by clicking here.
- Talking therapies by clicking here.
How To Know When To Get Help
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition. The Anxiety and Depression Association estimates that more than 18% of the population has an anxiety disorder. Yet, only 36% of those with the disorder get help.
While the stigma associated with mental health issues is certainly part of the reason many people don’t seek treatment, the other major reason is that people don’t recognize when their anxiety has become a problem.
The difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder involves the impairment an individual experiences. If anxiety interferes with your social, occupational or educational functioning, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Here are some examples of impairments:
- You call in sick because you to feel anxious to go to work.
- Your anxiety makes it impossible to concentrate.
- Your anxiety prevents you from attending social functions.
- You have trouble maintaining a healthy relationship because of your anxiety.
- Your worrying makes it hard to find joy in everyday activities.
- You struggle to sleep at night because you’re worrying and it feels like your brain can’t shut off.
How Can I Help Someone With Anxiety
Knowing the symptoms of anxiety can help you realize and act when someone you care about is in distress. Common anxiety behaviors include avoidance of feared situations or events , seeking reassurance, second-guessing, and irritability. The person may be engaging in all-or-nothing thinking or catastrophizing and demonstrating their belief that the worst will happen. If you notice these symptoms, avoid telling the anxious person not to worry or downplaying their feelings, which may leave them feeling misunderstood and belittled. Instead, be an active listener, express your concern, and recognize how difficult this is for them. Kindly encourage them to talk to a mental health professional or to draw on the techniques they have learned in therapy, if they are already in treatment.
People With Social Anxiety Don’t Want To Be Alone
It’s easy to grow so accustomed to your anxiety that it’s hard to notice how big of a role it plays in your life. Sometimes, it’s important to step back and examine what type of accommodations you make to avoid anxiety or to consider how anxiety interferes with your everyday life.
If you suspect that you may have an anxiety disorder, talk to your doctor. Discuss the symptoms you’re seeing or the impairments it has on your life.
Anxiety is very treatableusually with talk therapy. Unfortunately, however, many people wait years before addressing the issue. The sooner you talk to someone, the sooner you can begin to experience relief.
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The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression
Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.
Your Panic Is Persistent
An anxious brain, like a non-anxious brain, is always learning. But the anxious brain sometimes learns the wrong things and has an awfully hard time unlearning them. Once youve decided that people at parties are probably judging you, your brain may lock that lesson in and pretty soon generalize it to any social encounter. Ditto an obsessive-compulsive fear of disease or a panic over separation or loss. Sometimes, especially in the case of OCD, it takes just a single traumatic event a genuinely embarrassing social moment, say, or a legitimate medical scare for the brain to establish a fixed fear. Left untreated, those anxieties can go on for months and years.
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Suffering From Severe Anxiety
Anxiety is an incredibly stressful, but arguably manageable disorder. Many people still work, spend time with friends, and hold onto relationships while living with anxiety. But others are more affected by it, and some even struggle to complete the tasks of everyday life.
The best way to characterize a severe anxiety disorder is one that is disabling or significantly impairs someone from managing their activities or responsibilities. For example:
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia is a fear of being outdoors or in unfamiliar places. Panic disorder is generally characterized as with or without agoraphobia. Panic attacks can be disabling on their own, and so severe that hospitalization is required. However, the addition of agoraphobia worsens their symptoms and experiences, because it makes it difficult to go outside or enjoy any type of social life – and the anxiety a person does experience while outdoors is significant.
- Severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Some individuals suffer from severe OCD, which consists of being so engrossed in repetitive thoughts and the need to perform acts/compulsions in order to ease the anxiety caused by the thoughts. The degree of compulsions can make people unable to actually live their lives because they are forced to spend so much time acting out their compulsions.
How To Tell The Difference Between An Anxious Feeling And An Anxiety Disorder
How can you tell if your anxiety has surpassed normal levels and crossed into anxiety disorder territory? According to Bourne, you may have a disorder if your anxiety is intense, long lasting, and leads to phobias or severe fear that disrupts your life.
- Feeling restless, on edge, or wound-up
- Becoming fatigued very easily
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, feeling restless, or having unsatisfying sleep
Seek professional help if your anxiety is interfering with your relationships, work, or school life, or if it is causing you significant distress, Bourne advises. That said, you dont have to have a disorder to seek professional help for anxiety. If youd like to be able to better manage everyday anxieties, a mental health professional could be very helpful.
Also, consider speaking with your primary care doctor to rule out underlying conditions that may be contributing to or even triggering anxiety symptoms.
According to the Mayo Clinic, medical problems that can be linked to anxiety include:
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Moping And Wanting To Be Alone
Have you ever had a stressful day at work or school and thought to yourself “I want to be alone today?” Anxiety creates that feeling, and unfortunately, it’s actually the enemy of recovery.
One of the secrets to curing anxiety is staying busy and active. The more you can keep your mind off your anxious thoughts, the easier it will be for you to cope.
But when you’re alone, these distractions aren’t there. You’re not engaging in fun activities that take your mind off your problems, or talking with friends that make you feel good. Instead, you’re alone with your thoughts.
Remember, anxiety controls you on a chemical level. It changes your thoughts to be worse. So when you’re alone with your thoughts, they tend to simply run wild. Even if you feel like that alone time is helping, there may be subconscious thoughts that are given time to grow, or negative emotions that start to take over.
Spending time with friends, staying busy with fun activities, and trying to bring as much enrichment into your life as possible is actually a genuinely effective way to control stress and rebuild your natural coping ability. Spending a lot of time alone in your room because you had a bad day may make anxiety worse.
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If you dont mind retail work but prefer to avoid interacting with customers, you might find working behind the scenes more ideal.
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Worry Is A Component Of Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety has three main components: emotional, physiological, and cognitive.
Imagine you have a presentation coming up at work. You might notice feelings of fear and dread, two examples of the emotional component. You may also notice bodily sensations, such as heart palpitations, sweating, or a tightness in your stomach, which represent the physiological component. Finally, you might be thinking, I cant do it, or Im going to embarrass myself. Worries and negative thoughts like these about what might happen in the future are the cognitive component. So, while worry is an important part of anxiety, it is only one of the three main building blocks.