What Is An Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder is a mental health condition in which a person has ongoing worry and fear. It is normal to experience anxiety when going through a stressful time occasionally. Still, for people with an anxiety disorder, feelings of anxiety are constant and may even get worse over time.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosable mental health conditions, and as such, they often require professional monitoring and treatment. You will need to consult with a doctor or mental health professional to receive an anxiety disorder diagnosis, but knowing signs that you have anxiety can help you decide whether to seek help.
There are different types of anxiety, but what all of these different disorders have in common is that they lead a person to experience fear and worry that interferes with daily life. For some people, anxiety symptoms may lead to general worry and fear, whereas others may have anxiety related to specific situations or objects.
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Your Heart Rate Gets Sky High
Your sympathetic nervous system can also spike your heart rate, resulting in a racing pulse and increased feelings of alertness. Your brain is perceiving danger, and therefore is pumping blood through your body at a much higher rate. This happens when youre scared or alarmed for other, more obvious reasons. But people with anxiety can experience this reaction without any external triggers.
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Panicking about the absurd cost of that tiny studio apartment makes sense because you need a roof over your head and cant magically increase your salary. Panicking about taking a bus because youre afraid of having a panic attack on said bus doesnt.
Theres a difference between the uncomfortable but rational anxiety we all get in stressful situations and the sometimes debilitating but illogical anxiety super anxious people like me get in situations that arent actually stressful or threatening.
People with anxiety disorders experience anxiety over things others wouldnt and with such intensity that it interferes with our ability to function and do things we enjoy. So unless you have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, comparing your anxiety to someone elses isnt helpful, and it can make us feel like youre minimizing our experiences.
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Stop Worrying About It
This sentence will not be practical and imply that the anxious person chooses to be worried. A response like these places the blame on the person struggling and can suggest that they can control their Anxiety provoking behavior. It is essential to use better language, which includes simply telling them you are here for them without trying to give any solutions or expecting them to get over it quickly. Also, assure them it is OK if they don’t feel like talking about it. Try not to make them think about what’s causing their Anxiety.
How Anxiety Disorders Affect People
For people dealing with anxiety disorders, symptoms can feel strange and confusing at first. For some, the physical sensations can be strong and upsetting. For others, feelings of doom or fear that can happen for no apparent reason can make them feel scared, unprotected, and on guard. Constant worries can make a person feel overwhelmed by every little thing. All this can affect someones concentration, confidence, sleep, appetite, and outlook.
People with anxiety disorders might avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand. They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone.
Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or mistakenly think that anxiety is a weakness or a personal failing. Anxiety can keep people from going places or doing things they enjoy.
The good news is, doctors today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, a person can feel better.
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How Mild Anxiety May Present
Experiencing occasional anxiety is normal for most people and is very common. Nearly everyone experiences anxiety at some point during their lifetime. Someone with mild symptoms may experience classic symptoms of anxiety, like restlessness or sleep difficulty, but with little difference in their day-to-day productivity.
An individual in treatment for mild anxiety symptoms may be taught healthy coping strategies to deal with the stressors that are causing the anxiety. These healthy coping strategies commonly include relaxation techniques .
You Have Specific And Irrational Fears
These fears are called phobias, and theyre more common than you might think. According to some studies, 12.5 percent of Americans will experience a phobia at some point in their lives. People have phobias to many different things, but some examples might be a particular type of animal, natural disasters, objects such as needles, or environments. Agoraphobia, for instance, is a fear of open and public spaces. If you find that there are certain situations or objects that trigger irrational levels of fear, it may be characteristic of an anxiety disorder.
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Dating Someone With Social Anxiety
If you are dating someone with social anxiety, the anxiety will most likely affect your social life. You might not be able to take your partner to all of the social events or gatherings you want to go to. Like with other forms of anxiety, social anxiety disorder could lead to arguments or cause the two of you to grow apart if it starts to impact your relationship.
Understand Differences In How Anxiety Manifests
Because of evolution, were wired to respond to fear by either fight, flight, or freeze. For different people, one of these responses will typically dominate. For instance, my spouse tends to freeze and will bury her head in the sand rather than deal with things that make her feel stressed and panicky. I tend more toward fighting, and will become irritable, excessively perfectionistic, or dogmatic if I feel stressed.
When you understand that anxiety is designed to put us into a mode of threat sensitivity, its easier to understand someone who is feeling scared and acting out by being irritable or defensive, and to find compassion for them. By paying attention to how anxiety manifests in the person you care about, you can learn their patterns and be in a better position to help.
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Do Keep Lines Of Communication Open
When it comes to helping someone with anxiety, it is important to keep an open line of communication with them.
If you are able to, see the person regularly as this will help with managing anxiety. Spend one-on-one time with them so that they have opportunities to talk about anything they feel anxious about. You can also keep in touch over the phone, video or phone calling them once a week, or sending a text every few days just to see how their week is going.
They Voice Fears That Seem Catastrophic Or Misplaced
The cycle of beliefs that drive anxiety can seem completely confusing to a mind that isn’t caught in the same trap. Obsessive-compulsive disorder may be the most well-known manifestation of this drive, and, to those who do not suffer from it, the most confounding. The compulsive actions that those who suffer from this disorder feel compelled to engage in from closing a door multiple times to washing hands are, in the words of the mental health charity MIND, aimed at “dealing with the distress caused by the obsessive thoughts and relieve the anxiety you are feeling.”
However, distressing, catastrophizing thoughts aren’t only present in OCD they are often present in other anxiety disorders, too. Anxious people may fixate the worst possible outcome for a situation , and obsess over it, unable to convince themselves of its relative lack of possibility. This is called “catastrophizing,” and it can be paralyzing. Anxieties come from a deep place, and they often can’t be discussed or dismissed rationally.
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When To See A Mental Health Professional For Stress Or Anxiety
If simple changes in lifestyle dont alleviate the symptoms of anxiety or stress, you might want to visit a mental health professional to see if you might have an underlying anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by the mind often going blank, feeling on edge for no specific reason, and having trouble either getting to sleep or staying asleep. You might also have a panic disorder, in which panic attacks come on unexpectedly, resulting in shortness of breath, sweating, heart palpitations or an accelerated heart rate, sweating, and a feeling of being out of control. Other anxiety disorders include certain phobias like a fear of heights or crowded spaces, or even social anxiety disorder, which causes people to avoid social situations out of fear of what others might think of them .
Fortunately, a mental health professional can help you deal with these feelings through medications, simple talk therapy, and even cognitive behavior therapy, which teaches people to think differently and therefore react to anxiety-producing situations differently, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
Anxiety Disorder Causes And Risk Factors
When you experience the anxiety symptoms above, you will probably begin to wonder about the reasons for anxiety. While there is no single cause that explains every case of anxiety, some risk factors can lead to the development of anxiety disorders.
Some of the causes and risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of trauma
- Chemical imbalances from ongoing stress
- Certain personality factors
- The stress that comes with chronic health conditions like cancer or heart disease
- Drug or alcohol abuse
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Ways To Tell If Youre Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder
Everyone feels anxious sometimes. You might fret about the future or feel nervous before a first date. But some people feel anxious all of the time or at least it seems like it. For people with an anxiety disorder, their anxious feelings can be so frequent or severe that they interfere with their everyday lives. But how can you tell whether your anxiety is normal or if its a diagnosable condition?
Anxiety is often joked about, but its really nothing to look at lightly. These disorders can make it difficult for those suffering from them to go about their daily lives they can interfere with job performance, school, and personal relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that more than 19 percent of Americans are living with an anxiety disorder. And approximately 31.1 percent of adults in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.
Thats nearly one-third of the population and yet, awareness of anxiety and what it really looks like could still be improved. Though anxiety cannot be cured necessarily, it can be treated with proper access to mental health care. But before anxiety can be treated, the person suffering needs to know that they may have a mental condition and can reach out for help. These 15 signs are common indicators of an anxiety disorder.
Prevalence Of Anxiety And Depression In Men
On average, one in 8 men will have depression and one in 5 men will experience anxiety at some stage of their lives.
Men are less likely to experience anxiety and depression than women. They are also less likely to talk about it. This increases the risk of their anxiety or depression going unrecognised and untreated.
Untreated depression is a high risk factor for suicide. In Australia, there are about 3,000 suicides each year. Around 75% of people who take their lives are men, with an average of almost 7 men taking their lives every day.
Its important to remember that anxiety and depression are conditions, not weaknesses, and effective treatments are available.
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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.
Causes And Risk Factors For Anxiety
Researchers tend to agree that anxiety disorders are not the result of a single risk factor or cause rather it is a combination of environmental, genetic, and physical risk factors working in tandem to cause the disorder. The most commonly cited causes and risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
Genetic: People who have a first-degree relative such as a parent or sibling with an anxiety disorder are at greater risk for developing one themselves. However, not all people diagnosed with anxiety disorders will have a family history, nor will all with a family history go on to develop an anxiety disorder.
Physical: Neuroimaging studies of those who have anxiety disorders show that there are subtle differences in areas of the brain notably the hippocampus and amygdala of those with these disorders. Additionally, abnormal levels of certain neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin may be involved in the development of anxiety disorders.
Environmental: A number of significant life events and stressors that overwhelm an individuals ability to cope may lead to the development of anxiety disorders.
- Former or active military duty
- Chronic, unremitting stress
- Childhood history of abuse, trauma, or neglect
- Chronic physical health disorder
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Monitor Your Heart To Detect Anxiety Or Atrial Fibrillation
The best way to truly understand whether anxiety causes a fast heart rate, or if a fast heart rate causes anxiety, is to monitor your heart.
A heart monitor records your heart rhythm day and night. Some automatically record all heart rhythms others require you to push a button when you feel heart symptoms. When you dont have symptoms, heart monitors may not provide the information needed for a diagnosis. For that reason, I have patients use them for two to four weeks to increase my chances of capturing the event.
Over the past two years, more people are using their smartphones to keep track of their activity and heart rate, but each device has limitations. Whats important, however, is your daily trend.
Your heart rate varies throughout the day by a few beats per minute up to 10 bpm, even when doing very little activity or experiencing infrequent stress. When exercising, the variation may be more pronounced and change more quickly, which allows us to quickly adapt to different situations and challenges. When you look at the daily trend, you will quickly find your normal. This normal will have the lowest heart rates at night, and then change predictably during the day while at work and rest, and during exercise.
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Learning How To Better Communicate About The Anxiety
Anxiety can be scary. It can make you want to avoid talking about it.
Nonetheless, one of the most effective ways to cope with anxiety in a relationship is to talk about it openly, honestly and directly with your partner.
Having candid talks together on what they are feeling and validating those feelings is paramount, said therapist Daryl Cioffi.
To show your partner you accept their anxiety, you need to encourage them to open up about it. Try to listen without judging, becoming defensive or taking their anxiety personally. Provide reassurance and have empathy towards the situation.
If you start to observe that your partner seems more anxious you should address this with them. This might allow them to share with you why they feel anxious. said Bisma Anwar, LMHC
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You Feel Faint Or Dizzy
When people feel anxious or stressed, they often report feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Reciprocally, dizziness can cause anxiety. According to the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, this may be due to the fact that both functions are involved with the area of the body near your inner ear. During panic attacks especially, someone with anxiety may find themselves feeling faint.
You Have Trouble Falling Asleep
Your worrying could literally be keeping you up at night this is especially likely if youre someone with anxiety. Having trouble falling and staying asleep is characteristic of many peoples experiences who suffer from anxiety. Insomnia can take its toll on your physical health, as well as make mental health problems worse. To help combat this, there are certain bedtime rituals and meditations you can try. Talk with a mental health professional to see what sleep-promoting behaviors may work for you.
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