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.
Possible Medical Reasons For Anxiety
A useful mnemonic device, THINC MED, developed by Georgetown University psychiatrist Robert Hedeya, MD, helps doctors determine potential medical causes of anxiety:
T : Brain tumors cause a wide range of psychological symptoms, including anxiety, personality changes and hallucinations, along with physical symptoms. Adrenal gland tumors produce excess adrenaline, which can trigger anxiety, along with headache.
H : Thyroid problems are among the most common medical causes of anxiety, either because the gland is overactive or underactive . Parathyroid and adrenal gland conditions can trigger anxiety, too. The female hormone estrogen can also prompt anxiety when the menstrual cycle fluctuates and during menopause.
I :Lyme disease from tick bite infections can trigger anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Untreated Strep infections can cause the neurological tics sometimes seen with anxiety disorders. Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can follow a viral infection, may trigger anxiety as well .
N : The symptoms of vitamin deficiency/overload, malabsorption and poor nutrition can mimic emotional disorders. For example, anxiety may be the first symptom of B12 deficiency.
C : Head trauma, even when mild, can trigger anxiety and other psychological symptoms. Anxiety is also seen with chronic or progressive neurological conditions, such as Alzheimers, myasthenia gravis and Guillain-Barre.
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How To Tell If You Have Anxiety: 10 Signs And Symptoms
Anxiety can manifest itself in numerous ways and for many reasons. Important exams, having to make a speech, or going on a first date with someone can all be sources of nervousness or other feelings commonly associated with anxiety. However, these feelings can also be chronic and not based on specific scenarios and it could indicate an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, this article will discuss the mental and physical symptoms so that you can learn how to tell if you have anxiety, and start managing it today.
The Signs Of Anxiety
People experience anxiety differently. And there are different types of anxiety disorders some people have generalized anxiety disorder. Others may live with panic disorder. Some people may have difficulty with specific phobias. Despite there being differences between the types, here are some of the most common hallmarks of an anxiety disorder:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, individuals with anxiety disorders often worry excessively or have a sense of dread, usually lasting six months or longer. These anxious feelings can stem from school, the workplace, social interactions, personal relationships, health, or finances, to name a few causes. For those with anxiety, keeping these feelings under control can be challenging, even if they realize that their worries or fears are irrational.
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Intrusive Thoughts And Rumination
You might have some experience with disturbing thoughts that pop into your head without warning or reason. Intrusive thoughts can be frightening, since they often focus on violence, sex, or harmful or dangerous situations.
Even when youre aware that most people have these thoughts on occasion, you might still worry about what they mean and why you have them. A pattern of rumination, or returning to the same thought or loop of thoughts over and over, is associated with both anxiety and depression .
Intrusive thoughts dont just happen with anxiety, but they often prompt rumination, especially when you become preoccupied with trying to avoid or prevent them.
Rumination can happen in other situations, too when youre struggling to solve a problem or make a decision, for example.
You Avoid Social Situations
Not everyone who has anxiety fears social situations. Still, for those with social anxiety disorder, the fear of being judged negatively or humiliated in front of others can be so debilitating that social situations are avoided altogether.
If you have social anxiety, you may feel extremely fearful in large groups of people or when meeting someone new for the first time. You are likely to appear extremely shy, and you may talk in a hushed voice or find that you are excessively self-conscious.
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How Many Years Does Anxiety Take Off Your Life
But, Olfson noted, conditions such as major depression and anxiety disorders are far more common, and they also appeared to shorten peoples lives. Overall, the analysis found, people with mental health conditions were more than twice as likely to die over roughly 10 years, versus people without the disorders.
Identifying And Easing Anxiety
It’s possible to become so fixated on the physical effects from your anxious state that you don’t even realize you were anxious to begin with, says Dr. Barsky. So, how do you know if anxiety is causing your symptoms? And if it is, how can you feel better? Dr. Barsky offers some tips to help you interrupt this cycle.
Stop and assess. “The first step is to pause for a second and observe what’s going on with your body,” says Dr. Barsky. Think about what you are experiencing and whether it relates to a feeling of emotional upset or a reaction to something alarming or stressful. If your symptoms followed a stressful event or period of time, it’s possible these emotions triggered your symptoms. Also, be alert to signs that you are tensing your muscles, which can also indicate a stress reaction.
Relax your body or work it. To relieve stress, try some deep breathing or relaxation exercises. There are numerous online resources and smartphone apps that can help guide you through relaxation techniques. Physical activity can also help you relieve tension. Try to squeeze in a daily walk or a run.
Reassure yourself. If you believe your symptoms are being caused by anxiety, reassure yourself that what you are experiencing is not harmful or fatal. “They’re not serious, and they don’t signal an impending medical disaster,” says Dr. Barsky. The symptoms will pass when the anxiety eases.
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Anxiety And Panic Attacks
Explains anxiety and panic attacks, including possible causes and how you can access treatment and support. Includes tips for helping yourself, and guidance for friends and family.
Mae’r dudalen hon hefyd ar gael yn Gymraeg. This link will take you to a Welsh translation of this page.
How To Get Rid Of Shortness Of Breath From Anxiety
The best way to deal with anxiety-induced shortness of breath is to try and treat your anxiety.
One immediate way to address shortness of breath is diaphragmatic breathing . Research published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology, shows that this type of breath work can potentially reduce stress in the moment.
Its also been found that deep breathing can assist parts of the body that help regulate emotional well-being, according to an article published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
So, how do you do it? Follow these steps from the Cleveland Clinic:
Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and with a pillow under your head. Place a hand on your chest and another on your belly.
Slowly, breathe in through your nose. The goal is to feel your stomach push out against your hand.
Exhale through pursed lips, tightening your stomach muscles as you do and allowing them to fall inward.
Repeat this for about five to 10 minutes, with a goal of three to four times a day.
For more breathing techniques, check out this guide from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Breathing exercises arent the only way to deal with an anxiety attack. Here are a few more things that have been found to be successful:
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Should You See Your Doctor About Panic Attacks
A panic attack can make you feel like youre about to collapse or even die, but it’s usually harmless. However, in some cases, you may need medical advice to rule out an underlying physical cause.
Get medical advice if:
- your panic attack continues after doing 20 minutes of slow breathing
- you still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal
- you still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack
- you regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
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Six Simple Habits That Defeat Anxiety
Deanne Repich, Director: National Institute of Anxiety and Stress
If youre like most anxiety sufferers, you probably spend much of your day wrestling with physical symptoms, feeling afraid, or even hiding your anxious feelings from others. When stressors arise your racing heart, trembling, dizziness, obsessive thoughts and other symptoms take over.
Anxiety can keep you feeling trapped and once you feel this way, its difficult to know how or if you can ever feel better.
If you suffer from anxiety, take heart. Studies show that simple anxiety-reducing habits can go a long way toward improving how you feel.
Here are six simple habits you can use to defeat anxiety and take back control of your life.
Effects Of Anxiety On Your Body
These can include:
- a churning feeling in your stomach
- feeling light-headed or dizzy
- feeling restless or unable to sit still
- headaches, backache or other aches and pains
- faster breathing
- a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat
- sweating or hot flushes
- grinding your teeth, especially at night
- needing the toilet more or less often
- changes in your sex drive
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Can Anxiety Cause Nausea
Yes, anxiety can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems.
Outside of your brain, your digestive system contains the second largest number of nerves in your body. Some scientists even call your gut your second brain.
Its no surprise then that the hormones and chemicals released when youre anxious can cause gut-related issues, including:
Social Phobia: Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is among the most common mental disorders on a lifetime basis. Prevalence ranges from 12% to 14% of the population.3 The hallmark of SAD is the marked and persistent fear of one or more social or performance situations. There is the fear that one will act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing. In some cases, exposure to the feared situation may lead to a panic attack.
Generalized SAD is characterized by fear and/or avoidance of multiple social situations and is the most common form of SAD among patients presenting to a primary health-care provider.3 The onset is usually in childhood or early adolescence and is believed to stem from genetic as well as environmental factors. Research has shown that parents who have SAD tend to be overprotective and are overly sensitive to social disapproval themselves.4
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Stress Anxiety And Then Panic: Neal’s Story
As Sideman says, his attack occurred in the early 1990s, and few people seriously considered the possibility of a panic attack in a 39-year-old man. So he went home thinking all would be fine, only to have another, more severe attack one week later.
Now, looking back, the situation seems clearer.
I was under a lot of stress starting a new business, working 16-hour days, a close friend was ill and dying, and on top of all that, I was doing a super heavy workout regimen at the gym with a trainer,” Sideman says. “So it was a lot of physical stress, emotional stress, and a lot of financial stresses.” He says he also can see roots of anxiety in his childhood and teen years as well as in other family members.
In the moment, he didnt know what to think because it can be tough to know what a panic attack is like until you have one. His second panic attack was really a full-blown panic attack, where I thought I was going to die,” Sideman says. “I thought I was going to pass out, not wake up, go crazy, have a heart attack.”
He recalled being terrified, and the response he chose was one that can actually make panic disorder worse: He started to avoid the situations where he had attacks.
Other Causes Of Shortness Of Breath
If you feel that you are facing breathing problems but have ruled out anxiety or a panic attack, it is important to evaluate yourself for other health conditions that can cause shortness of breath.
If you have a lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease , you may not get enough oxygen, and thus feel breathless, according to the website COPD.
Additionally, according to the Cleveland Clinic, one of the main symptoms of high blood pressure is shortness of breath.
Be sure to discuss all current medical conditions with your healthcare provider, including heart problems and lung conditions, in order to narrow down the causes of shortness of breath.
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What Are Anxiety Disorders
We all have feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes. These can be normal responses to certain situations. For example, you might worry about a job interview, or about paying a bill on time. These feelings can give you an awareness of risks and what you need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. This reaction is known as fight or flight.
Your brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. Once the threatening situation has stopped, your body will usually return to normal.
But if you have an anxiety disorder these feelings of fear and danger can be ongoing and interrupt your daily routine long after the threat has gone. They can make you feel as though things are worse than they actually are.
Everyones experience of anxiety disorders is different. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms.
Mental symptoms of anxiety can include:
- racing thoughts,
Anxiety can lead to depression if left untreated.
What Is An Anxiety Attack
Anxiety attacks are a combination of physical and mental symptoms that are intense and overwhelming. The anxiety is more than just regular nervousness. The anxiety is often a feeling of immense, impending doom that makes many people feel they’re about to die, or that everything around them is breaking down.
It creates physical symptoms that are so severe they actually mimic legitimate, serious health problems.
Those that haven’t had an anxiety attack before often have no idea that what they’re experiencing is anxiety. That’s because the symptoms of anxiety attacks and panic attacks mimic extremely serious issues, such as:
- Heart attacks and heart failure.
- Brain tumors.
Yet despite how intense these things can feel, anxiety attacks are not even remotely dangerous.
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What Causes Anxiety Disorders
We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.
Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.
Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.
Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.
Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.
Set Small Achievable Goals
Anxiety sufferers tend to set unrealistically high expectations for themselves. To counteract this tendency, set goals that you can easily accomplish. This builds your confidence and your sense of accomplishment.
When you are learning skills to handle stress and reduce your anxiety, small steps work best. For example, if your goal is to integrate deep breathing into your life, start by practicing for one-minute intervals three or four times a day instead of for an hour all at once.
Setting small, achievable goals will help will take you farther than you can imagine over time. It will help you reach your final destination: a happier, low-anxiety life.
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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