What Is Social Anxiety
Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. People with social anxiety have an intense fear of situations where they could be watched, judged, embarrassed, or rejected by others. The symptoms are so extreme that they interfere with the persons daily routine and prevent them from taking part in ordinary activities.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
You can check what treatment and care is recommended for anxiety disorders on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website.
NICE produce guidelines for how health professionals should treat certain conditions. NICE only provide guidelines for:
- Generalised anxiety disorder and panic disorder,
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder ,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder , and
- Social anxiety disorder.
The NHS does not have to follow these recommendations. But they should have a good reason for not following them.
We have described some of the treatments for anxiety disorders below. The treatments you will be offered depend upon the type of anxiety disorder you are experiencing.
You can find more information about treatments for:
Monitoring your symptomsSome anxiety disorders, such as generalised anxiety disorder may get better by itself with no treatment at all. Or after education and advice from your doctor. Your doctor will monitor your symptoms to see if they improve. And they will talk to you about medications that you can get without a prescription. These are sometimes called over-the-counter medications.
Individual non-facilitated self helpThis involves working from a book or a computer program. You will be supported by a trained professional
Individual guided self-helpYou should:
Your learning should:
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How Do I Get Tested For Anxiety
While online quizzes like this can help someone understand their feelings, they should be followed up with a professional assessment. Your medical doctor or a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or licensed clinical social worker, can help.
According to NYU Langone Health, an anxiety test for adults from a health care professional will include a physical exam, a lot of questions about your symptoms and any medications you are taking , and potentially a blood test, to rule out any physical conditions that could be causing anxiety like hypothyroidism.
If physical or pharmaceutical causes are ruled out, a health care professional will then conduct a psychological evaluation, asking more questions about your symptoms including how long youve experienced them and whether they persist or come and go and whether anyone in your family has had a history of anxiety disorder or depression. This eval can also detect or rule out the presence of conditions like PTSD or an eating disorder, which can accompany anxiety disorders.
Information For Carers Friends And Relatives
If you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who hears voices, you can get support.
How can I get support?
You can do the following.
- Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
- Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
- Ask for a carers assessment from your local social services.
- Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
- Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.
What is a carers assessment?A carers assessment is an assessment of the support that you need so that you can continue in your caring role. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.
How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can contact the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service and we will search for you.
How can I support the person I care for?
You can do the following.
- Read information about anxiety disorders.
- Ask the person you support to tell you what their symptoms are and if they have any self-management techniques that you could help them with.
- Encourage them to see a GP if you are worried about their mental health.
- Ask to see a copy of their care plan, if they have one. They should have a care plan if they are supported by a care coordinator.
- Help them to manage their finances.
You can find out more about:
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The Subtle Signs Of Anxiety
The details. All of them. ASAP.
If you are someone who is more a go-with-the-flow type of person, an excessive need for details might seem confusing for you. For someone with anxiety, having as many details as soon as possible can be the greatest defence against anxiety sashaying in when its not welcome. And its never welcome. The details may help to cut down the what-ifs that feed anxiety before theyve had the chance to breathe. The need to clarify plans, or fill in or change some of the details isnt about needing to control anything, but about trying to stop anxiety controlling them.
People with anxiety often have wonderfully strong and vibrant minds and when theres a decision to be made, theyll tend to think of all the different angles. On the plus side, they may be the ones to think of things that nobody else saw coming. On the other hand, anxiety can make decision-making more difficult. The outward signs of this may be trouble deciding, planning, weighing up consequences and organising thoughts in a logical, rational way to get to a good decision. The capacity to make a good decision is there, but anxiety can send it offline.
Or fight. Anger, aggression, tantrums, irritability.
Anxiety isnt always about avoidance or escape. During anxiety, the alternative to flight is fight. This can look like aggression or anger, but underlying it might be anxiety and the need to feel safe.
You Have Trouble Falling And Staying Asleep
Stress and anxiety can cause or exacerbate existing sleeping problems, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Mentally running through your to-do list can keep you up at night, especially if you find yourself fixated on everything you have to get done. And the relationship between sleep and anxiety is a vicious cycle. Missing out on sufficient sleep can also aggravate anxiety. “If you’re consistently getting less than enough, your body’s not working at its top level, which makes you more susceptible to feeling anxious,” says Ward.
Your ability to sleep well isn’t the only way anxiety impacts your body. According to the Mayo Clinic, other physical symptoms associated with anxiety include:
- Nausea, diarrhea, or irritable bowel syndrome
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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.
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 To Tell If You’re Having An Anxiety Attack
If you feel like you had severe anxiety, then you had an anxiety attack. Any form of severe anxiety can count as an attack. But for those that are experiencing something more like panic attacks, the experience tends to be similar between different people.
Recall that anxiety attacks can mimic other health problems. If you haven’t been to a doctor, it’s a good idea to go at least once to rule out any more serious issues. Make sure your doctor knows about anxiety, however. Not all doctors are aware of the severity of anxiety attack symptoms. Some may not believe that anxiety can cause so many physical symptoms and sensations, but it absolutely can. Thats why its so important to find the right doctor.
The symptoms below are often experienced differently by different people. During an anxiety attack, your body experiences a wave of stress that is so profound, it’s difficult to know exactly how your individual body will react. Yet below are some of the most common symptoms of an anxiety attack:
You may not experience all of these symptoms at once either, and each one may cause various degrees of severity. You may also feel as though there is no way that it is an anxiety attack. Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are often so severe that the sufferers live in constant fear of the symptoms coming back.
Anxiety attacks also tend to peak around 10 minutes . Then as they dissipate, they often leave you feeling fatigued and drained, possibly fearful of another attack.
How Can You Treat Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you think you might have generalized anxiety disorder, your first step should be to speak to your doctor and get a medical diagnosis.
There are no physical tests that can determine whether or not you have an anxiety disorder, but your symptoms could be caused by an undiagnosed physical illness that shares symptoms with generalized anxiety disorder.
For this reason, your consultation with your doctor may include a physical exam and a verbal evaluation where you go over your medical and psychiatric history and talk about the issues you have been experiencing.
Your doctor will use this information to establish whether a generalized anxiety disorder diagnosis is appropriate, or if you have a related anxiety disorder or something else going on altogether.
Once you have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, you and your doctor can discuss the different types of treatment available to create a customized care plan that works best for you.
Here are some of the treatments your doctor may suggest in order to help you manage your generalized anxiety disorder.
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Can Foods Treat Anxiety
Medication and talk therapy are commonly used to treat anxiety. Lifestyle changes, like getting enough sleep and regular exercise, can also help. In addition, some research suggests the foods you eat may have a beneficial impact on your brain if you frequently experience anxiety.
These foods include:
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Nervous Vs Anxious: What’s The Difference
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
It’s common to hear someone say, “This is giving me anxiety!” when faced with a situation that makes them uncomfortable or nervous.
But although the terms “anxiety” and “nervous” are often used interchangeably, feeling nervous and having an anxiety disorder are two very different things. So how do you know if the nervousness you’re feeling is normal or actually an anxiety disorder?
Behavioral Symptoms Of Anxiety
Some of the effects that intense anxiety can have on your mind and behavior patterns include feeling like youre:
- Out of touch with reality
- Depressed and having a low mood
- Constantly tense and unable to relax
- Combatting a sense of dread and intense fear for the worst
- Self-conscious, believing others are looking at you
- Going to allow bad things to happen if you stop worrying
- Anxious about anxiety itself, stressing that you might have a panic attack or anxiety attack
- In need of excessive reassurance from others, always believing theyre angry or upset with you
The mental effects of intense anxiety can also include:
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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:
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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