What Anxiety Feels Like & Why It Happens
Generally speaking, we all have a lot going on in our lives: School, work, family, finances, health, relationships, friendships. And while your specific priorities may differ from someone else’s as well as shift over time the one prevailing constant we all seem to be bound to is that there’s almost always something to stress about or worry over.
“The various situations and events happening in your life greatly affect your overall mood. So when something is causing you to feel stressed or worried, it can impact your entire life from personal to interpersonal to professional,” says Dr. Ali Sawal, primary care practitioner at Houston Methodist.
And while anxiety may seem like some amorphous state-of-mind that you’re either prone to experiencing or you’re not, you may be surprised to find that anxiety is much more common than you think.
Will Anxiety Go Away On Its Own
“Anxiety and its symptoms resolve only when the underlying cause of the anxiety is addressed,” says Dr. Sawal. “In some cases, a person may take control of the situation or circumstance causing their anxiety on their own sometimes without even knowing it.”
For instance, maybe anxiety stemming from out-of-control debt was alleviated by taking actionable steps towards reducing this debt and gaining better financial control.
“Other times, however, a person may struggle to either identify and/or address his or her anxiety. This is when talking to your doctor can help,” adds Dr. Sawal.
Your doctor has many tools at his or her disposal to help diagnose and address anxiety. He or she can refer you to a behavioral therapy specialist, such as a therapist or psychologist, or prescribe medications that can help reduce your anxiety.
“Studies have shown both behavioral therapy and medications to be beneficial in addressing anxiety, and these studies also suggest that the two are even more powerful when combined together,” explains Dr. Sawal. “Both aren’t always needed lifelong typically only for short periods of time when things are particularly chaotic or stressful for you.”
What Does Anxiety Look Like
In this blog, we are going to explore what anxiety looks like, what it feels like, and how it shows up in our lives. I am talking about anxiety that is not productive. You know, the kind that keeps you up at night, that stops you in your tracks, that makes you and everyone around you crazy.
This unhealthy anxiety can strike at any moment and usually does. It sometimes creeps into your life bit by bit, tapping you on the shoulder like a person trying to get your attention. Or it can barge into your life like a house invader that just broke down the front door. Throwing things around without regard for your feelings. Totally unwanted and frightening.
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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment
If you are not happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis. You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard. There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.
The Patient Advice and Liaison Service
You can find your local PALS details through this website link:
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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What Should You Do When Anxiety Attacks
While some symptoms build up and persist over time, symptoms of anxiety can also “attack” often referred to as a panic attack.
“A panic attack comes with intense symptoms that can often be mistaken for symptoms of a heart attack,” says Dr. Sawal. “Symptoms of a panic attack include a racing heartbeat, trembling or shaking, shortness of breath and chest pain.”
If you know that what you’re experiencing is a panic attack, Dr. Sawal recommends the following:
- Remove yourself from the source of your panic attack
- Engage in deep breathing exercises and positive self-talk
- Take steps to address why you are anxious to help prevent future panic attacks
But, if you’re not sure that what you’re experiencing is a panic attack and you’re experiencing chest pain, it’s critical that you talk to your doctor.
“Both anxiety and chest pain can be a sign of something more serious, and your doctor will need to confirm that your symptoms aren’t caused by an underlying medical condition,” adds Dr. Sawal.
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.
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What Is A Panic Disorder
If you have a panic disorder, you get intense, sudden panic attacks. These attacks often feature stronger, more intense feelings than other types of anxiety disorders.
The feelings of terror may start suddenly and unexpectedly or they may come from a trigger, like facing a situation you dread. Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks. If theres any chance youre experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Its better to err on the side of caution and have a healthcare professional check you.
During a panic attack, you may experience:
- Chest pain.
- Feeling of choking, which can make you think youre having a heart attack or going crazy.
Panic attacks are very upsetting. People with panic disorder often spend a lot of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also try to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.
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Your Worries Interfere With Your Day
Ultimately, an anxiety disorder may become so severe that the basic business of living becomes compromised. People suffering from OCD may need hours to get out of the house in the morning because the pillows on the bed arent arranged properly. Schoolwork and job performance may suffer because perfectionism makes it impossible to complete a project or because social anxiety makes it impossible to talk to classmates or colleagues. Things become worse when emotional symptoms lead to physical ones such as headaches, loss of appetite and sleeplessness. The question I ask first is, Is your anxiety impairing your functioning?’ says Goldberg.
Anxiety responds well to professional care. Treatment may include psychotropic medications like Zoloft or Prozac, which can at least lower the voltage of the pain. That may make it easier to embrace and practice the techniques of cognitive behavioral therapy, in which people learn to talk back to their anxiety, reframe their fears to something less extreme, and practice self-soothing techniques like mindfulness or distraction or breathing. Slow, graduated exposure to the very things people fear also helps the brain break the link between the trigger situation and the terror that follows.
No one can live a life untouched by anxiety. But with the right skills and the right help, no one needs to live one that is destroyed by it, either.
Write to Jeffrey Kluger at .
What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms
You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.
Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.
Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.
There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. The charity Bipolar UK have an online support group. They also have face to face support groups in some areas of the country. Their contact details are in the useful contacts at the bottom of this page.
Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:
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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.
How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children
Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.
But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.
When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help
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What Does Anxiety Attack Mean
Anxiety attacks often have triggers, although they can be triggered by nothing at all. Some people experience anxiety attacks during periods of intense anxiety, but many others experience them “out of nowhere,” usually as a response to a physical sensation. For example, it’s not uncommon to have your first anxiety attack simply because your heartbeat speeds up, because anxiety has caused you to be hypersensitive to these changes.
The causes of anxiety attacks are everything from severe stress to hyperventilation to a need to regain control. It differs for different people, which is why treating it has a great deal to do with identifying triggers. Once you’ve experienced an anxiety attack, the fear of another anxiety attack may actually trigger an attack, because those that are afraid of getting a panic attack again often pay too much attention to their own body, and react to any changes in sensations.
Actions For This Page
- Anxiety and depression in men are common, and effective, evidence-based treatments are available.
- Anxiety and depression are mental health conditions, not weaknesses.
- Taking action may seem difficult but help and support is readily available.
- Its important to seek support for anxiety and depression early the sooner the better.
- With the right treatment, most people recover from anxiety and depression.
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What Does Anxiety Feel Like To Me
What is anxiety like? Ive suffered from anxiety and panic attacks since my early teens, though at the time I wasnt aware that that is what they were. Think about it.. How does anxiety feel to a 15 year old when everything is so stressful to begin with? With that said, what does stress feel like? It was only when I was 21 and went through a particularly stressful period that my general anxiety as well as overwhelming panic came to the surface, and I started having panic attacks at night almost every night.
Looking back on that time, as well as at a handful of events that have triggered significant anxiety since then, Ive come up with two lists: What does anxiety feel like mentally? and What does anxiety feel like physically?
Mentally, anxiety feels like