When Anxiety Is Too Much
Some forms of anxiety are routine while being helpful to raise awareness or keep you alert. Yet, anxiety at times may make things more challenging and even lead to reduced productivity and excessive worrying. Such aspects are similar for people with generalized anxiety disorder, but sometimes people may not realize they have a problem with anxiety. While some may experience anxiety, it doesnt mean a disorder is present. Anxiety impacts your life in different ways, including your relationships and how you socialize with others. Here examples of a disorder affecting daily activities:
- You feel really anxious about work and decide to stay home.
- You decide to skip socializing with friends because of anxiety.
- You find it hard to establish or maintain a relationship because of anxiety.
- You worry too much about things making it hard to focus during the day.
- You dont enjoy certain activities like you used to or have trouble engaging.
- You have trouble sleeping at night because anxiety keeps you awake.
It is one thing to go through different situations where anxiety may contribute to the outcome. You may also experience physical side effects or symptoms of anxiety that should be addressed. Common symptoms include:
- Restlessness, agitation, or tension
- Lack of concentrating due to worrying
- Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, and fatigue
- Physical discomforts such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, or gas
- Avoiding socializing with others
When Should You Get Help For Anxiety?
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
- 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:
What Causes Anxiety Attacks
- Caregivers do not know for sure what causes anxiety attacks. Sometimes they are caused by being in a situation that you find upsetting. You may have them due to a stressful life event, such as getting divorced. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if you also have another mental health problem. Other mental health problems include depression , or alcoholism . Anxiety attacks may happen for no reason. Anxiety attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender.
- Some health conditions or medicines may cause anxiety attack symptoms. Using or withdrawing from alcohol or illegal drugs may also cause symptoms. Some people have anxiety attacks that are triggered by the fear of having a future anxiety attack. You are more likely to have anxiety attacks if someone in your family also has them.
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Anxiety Isnt Only In Your Head
If you have anxiety, you might frequently feel worried, nervous, or afraid about ordinary events. These feelings can be upsetting and difficult to manage. They can also make daily life a challenge.
Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms. Think about a time when you felt anxious. Maybe your hands were sweaty or your legs were shaky. Your heart rate might have sped up. You could have felt sick to your stomach.
You might have linked these symptoms to your nervousness. But maybe you werent sure why you felt unwell.
Most people experience anxiety on occasion. Anxiety can be serious or turn into a disorder if it lasts for a long time, causes significant distress, or interferes with your life in other ways.
Types of anxiety include:
Specific types of anxiety might have additional physical symptoms.
If youre having a panic attack, you might:
- fear that youre going to die
- have trouble breathing or feel as if youre choking
- have numb or tingling sensations in parts of your body
- have chest pain
- feel lightheaded, dizzy, or as if you might pass out
- feel overheated or have chills
Anxiety, the bodys response to stress, is how your body alerts you to threats and helps you get ready to deal with them. This is called the fight-or-flight response.
Your body isnt meant to always be on alert. Being in constant fight-or-flight mode, which can happen with chronic anxiety, can have negative and serious effects on your body.
Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders
A mix of genetic and environmental factors can raise a persons risk for developing anxiety disorders. You may be at higher risk if you have or had:
- Certain personality traits, such as shyness or behavioral inhibition feeling uncomfortable with, and avoiding, unfamiliar people, situations or environments.
- Stressful or traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood.
- Family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions.
- Certain physical conditions, including thyroid problems and heart arrhythmias .
Anxiety disorders occur more often in women. Researchers are still studying why that happens. It may come from womens hormones, especially those that fluctuate throughout the month. The hormone testosterone may play a role, too men have more, and it may ease anxiety. Its also possible that women are less likely to seek treatment, so the anxiety worsens.
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Feeling Agitated Or Irritable
Suffering from anxiety can make you feel quite agitated or irritable, which is understandable, given that you seem to struggle with worry and fear constantly. Feelings of anxiety can also motivate you to try to control your environment, such as by obsessively planning or preparing for the worst possible situation.
Similarly, anxiety symptoms can lead you to be quite rigid, which can cause you to become irritated or agitated if something interferes with your routine or if things do not go as planned.
How To Overcome Stress Worries And Anxiety To Succeed In Your Career
Meditating, focusing on the here and now and learning to accept the things you cannot control all … provide a healthier, more relaxed attitude.
Heres something that people dont often talk about. To succeed in your job, in addition to possessing the right skills and experience, you need the proper strategies and tools in place to effectively deal with potential self-defeating thoughts, stress and anxiety.
This may sound easy, but its not. Given everything people are dealing with today, it would be surprising if youre not feeling stressed out and anxious. People have spent 2½ years managing a global pandemic, uncertain financial futures, political turmoil and growing inflation, said Jeffrey Galak, an associate marketing professor at Carnegie Mellon.
Until recently, talking about mental health issues wasnt socially acceptable. People would keep their challenges to themselves, out of fear of being labeled and marginalized. Post-pandemic, it has become more commonplace to talk about your emotional well-being, feelings of depression and career burnout.
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What To Do When You Have An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks often need to run their course. Once theyve started, there is very little that you can do to stop them completely. Theyre a reaction that your body has that is somewhat beyond your control. They can be prevented, and their severity can be lessened, but they are very hard to stop.
Reducing its severity has to do with reacting correctly to the symptoms. Remember the physical symptoms you experience are very real, and very disruptive. But theyre not related to any health problem, and solely a result of your anxiety. If you believe you feel an anxiety attack coming or youre certain youre in the middle of the one, try the following:
Drinking water may also calm the mind, and if you feel strong enough, a good jog can get your body to breathe better and use oxygen at a healthier pace.
How Can I Best Cope With An Anxiety Disorder
There are several steps you can take to cope with anxiety disorder symptoms. These strategies can also make your treatment more effective:
- Explore stress management: Learn ways to manage stress, such as through meditation.
- Join support groups: These groups are available in-person and online. They encourage people with anxiety disorders to share their experiences and coping strategies.
- Get educated: Learn about the specific type of anxiety disorder you have so you feel more in control. Help friends and loved ones understand the disorder as well so they can support you.
- Limit or avoid caffeine: Many people with anxiety disorder find that caffeine can worsen their symptoms.
- Talk to your healthcare provider: Your provider is your partner in your care. If you feel like treatment isnt working or have questions about your medication, contact your provider. Together, you can figure out how to best move forward.
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Are There Tests That Diagnose Anxiety
A single test cant diagnose anxiety. Instead, an anxiety diagnosis requires a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health tests, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors or healthcare professionals may conduct a physical exam, including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to the symptoms youre experiencing.
Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to help a doctor assess the level of anxiety youre experiencing. Reach about each of these tests.
Once youve received a diagnosis of anxiety, you can explore treatment options with a doctor.
But treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.
Treatment for anxiety falls into three categories:
- Psychotherapy. Therapy can include cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention.
- Complemental health techniques. Mindfulness, yoga, and self-management strategies such as stress management are ways to treat your anxiety using alternative methods.
- Medication. Doctors prescribe antianxiety and antidepressant drugs.
Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with stress when it occurs.
The Mental Health Resources page can provide tips on finding a psychiatrist, or a doctor who specializes in mental health, to fit your needs.
Some other commonly used medications include:
How To Detect Abnormal Heart Rhythm Patterns
Abnormal heart rhythms have three patterns, and the first is the easiest to figure out: You develop a sudden elevated heart rate with anxiety. Your device will show an abrupt heart rate acceleration, and when symptoms stop, the device should abruptly return to normal. This is usually shown as a spike in the graph of more than 30 to 40 bpm.
The second really depends on understanding your normal heart rate. In this pattern, the heart rate is exaggerated during rest or by an activity. If your heart rate while sleeping at night is typically 40 to 60 bpm, for example, but on a seemingly normal night it jumps to 70 to 90 bpm, you may have a form of an SVT called atrial tachycardia. In atrial tachycardia, the changing heart rate pattern is abnormal for you, it can last for longer periods of time, and it may occur without symptoms. The heart rate in atrial tachycardia is often more than 20 to 30 bpm faster than your normal heart rate would be for that same activity.
The last pattern is one in which the heart rate can vary dramatically from beat to beat this is seen in people with a very abnormal heart rate, such as atrial fibrillation. In some people, the heart rate is mildly elevated, while in others it may be more than 100 bpm. The smartphone graphs a chaotic, abnormal pattern with broad swings in the tracing from beat to beat. This same pattern can be seen in people with very frequent extra beats from the upper and lower heart chambers.
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How Can I Help My Child
If your child has an anxiety disorder, here are some ways you can help:
- Find a trained therapist and take your child to all the therapy appointments.
- Talk often with the therapist, and ask how you can best help your child.
- Help your child face fears. Ask the therapist how you can help your child practice at home. Praise your child for efforts to cope with fears and worry.
- Help kids talk about feelings. Listen, and let them know you understand, love, and accept them. A caring relationship with you helps your child build inner strengths.
- Encourage your child to take small steps forward. Don’t let your child give up or avoid what they’re afraid of. Help them take small positive steps forward.
- Be patient. It takes a while for therapy to work and for kids to feel better.
When To Consider Talking To Your Doctor
There are a few factors that separate typical anxiety from a more serious issue you might seek treatment for, Dr. Rock says. Factors to consider include:
You really have to think about how much it affects your functioning, Dr. Rock says. You can avoid some triggers: If youre afraid of lions, dont go to the zoo. But if you are afraid of people, thats more of a problem.
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Myth: People Always Fake Anxiety For Attention
Fact: While there are conditions where some people may fake an illness for attention, those who have anxiety sometimes cant control when their anxiety takes over. This is especially true when their anxiety is accompanied by panic attacks.
Panic attacks are a symptom of anxiety that can come on suddenly for no apparent reason. But when investigated further, some underlying causes could be overstimulation, loud noises, big crowds, or prolonged periods of stress.
Anxiety can also sometimes be directly linked to a reason for a panic attack breakdown. Such as extreme nervousness or worry over a medical procedure, a dentists office visit, a big test, a job interview, or a public performance.
Panic attacks also bring on a whole host of real physical and mental symptoms that can cause great distress and fatigue to the person experiencing them.
In no way should a persons sudden breakdown due to anxiety be perceived as faking an episode just to get special attention or to gain sympathy. These myths about anxiety are hurtful. Accusing someone of faking their anxiety is wrong because the panic attacks that come with anxiety simply cant be helped.
Oftentimes, the last thing a person with anxiety wants is to be the center of attention.
Other Types Of Anxiety Disorder
There are several other types of anxiety disorder, including:
- panic disorder a condition where you have recurring, regular panic attacks for more information, see anxiety, fear and panic
- phobias an extreme or irrational fear of something, like an animal or a place
- agoraphobia a fear related to situations such as leaving home, being in crowds or travelling alone
- obsessive compulsive disorder a condition that usually involves unwanted thoughts or urges, and repetitive behaviours
- post-traumatic stress disorder a condition caused by frightening or distressing events
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Tachycardia Can Cause Anxiety
Abnormal heart rhythms of more than 100 beats per minute that come from the upper heart chambers are called supraventricular tachycardias . These can occur in healthy hearts as well as in people who’ve had prior heart injuries or problems. In most people, SVTs are random events not triggered by exercise or other activities. SVTs cause symptoms of heart palpitations, lightheadedness, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, and, at times, they may cause you to pass out. The mind responds and can cause further symptoms of anxiety and panic.
Most of the time, I encounter people who’ve had anxiety for a few years and for whom medications haven’t worked which prompted their doctors to look for additional potential causes.
Clues That Indicate Abnormal Heart Rhythms
In my clinic, I’m often faced with two possibilities:
- Did anxiety cause the rapid heart rate?
- Did the rapid heart rate cause anxiety?
Here are some clues:
1. Symptom pattern This is the most straightforward clue. If anxiety makes your heart race, then something causes stressful feelings that are followed by an elevated heart rate. But if your heart is causing the anxiety, then heart palpitations or a racing heart comes first, followed by anxiety. Sometimes the racing heart causes lightheadedness or chest discomfort, and anxiety escalates.
2. Passing out or seizure This raises my concern about an abnormal heart rhythm. Anxiety disorders or panic attacks rarely cause you to pass out. You might pass out when having blood drawn or experiencing something unsettling. But if you have no warning signs before passing out, the risk of a heart problem increases. Many people feel lightheaded or dizzy if they stand up quickly but people rarely pass out while seated, standing, or during an activity. If you’ve ever passed out while exercising or experienced a seizure, you should see a heart specialist.
3. Hyperventilating When you’re anxious or panicking, you may hyperventilate. This can cause numbness and tingling in the tips of your fingers on both hands, and around your mouth. Usually, anxiety causes this hyperventilation. But if you also feel lightheaded or faint, your blood pressure may be falling, indicating an abnormal heart rhythm.