Why Does Anxiety Make Me So Irritable
There are several types of anxiety disorders, ranging from generalized anxiety disorder , to panic disorder, to different phobias. Though these types of anxiety can manifest in different ways, they all involve experiencing intense worry or fear that can get in the way of daily functioning. Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:
- Feeling on-edge or restless
- Having trouble falling or staying asleep
- Heart palpitations
- Avoiding objects or situations that trigger anxiety
Though we dont often talk about irritability in the context of anxiety, its actually a pretty common symptom. Anxiety can trigger the bodys fight, flight, freeze or fawn response modes even if were not actually in danger. So next time you find yourself lashing out in irritability or anger due to anxiety, say hello to your fight response!
Irritability is a very understandable difficulty for individuals with anxiety, Jen Douglas, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, told The Mighty, adding:
Anxiety and worry can take up a large portion of our head space if were dealing with an anxiety disorder. This type of overthinking, preparing for the worst-case scenario and constant list-making can be really exhausting. And when people are exhausted by those mental to-do lists, they end up feeling depleted, and then theyre more likely to feel irritable.
What Might Indicate That Both Anxiety And Depression Are Present
Traits that may signal the presence of both anxiety disorder and depression include:
- Irrational worries or fears that wont go away
- Physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, rapid heartbeat, labored breathing or abdominal pain
- Difficulty going to sleep or staying asleep
- Changes in eating habits either too much or too little
- Trouble remembering, making decisions or concentrating
- Constant feelings of sadness or worthlessness
- Loss of usual interest in activities or hobbies
- Feeling often tired and cranky
- Inability to relax and live in the moment
- Suffering from panic attacks, including the sense of losing inner control2
How Panic Attacks Work
This includes such questions as:
* What triggers a panic attack?
* What causes panic attacks to happen on some days, and in some situations, but not others?
* Why would I have a panic attack one time I visit the grocery store or drive on a highway, and not at the same place another day?
* Why do I have less trouble if my support person is with me?
* How do panic attacks end?
For a discussion of this question, I am making available here a free copy of Chapter 7 from my Panic Attacks Workbook. Feel free to download this chapter for your own personal use.
Click here to view or download the chapter.
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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
With GAD, you may feel extreme and unrealistic worry and tension even if theres nothing to trigger these feelings. Most days, you may worry a lot about various topics, including health, work, school and relationships. You may feel that the worry continues from one thing to the next.
Physical symptoms of GAD can include restlessness, difficulty concentrating and sleeping problems.
Weight Loss Supplements Can Have Anxiety
Many over-the-counter weight loss supplements come with anxiety-producing side effects. Use of St. John’s wort may lead to insomnia, and green tea extracts contain plenty of caffeine. Guarana, an ingredient in some OTC diet products, can contain up to four times as much caffeine as coffee beans. And beware of any product containing ephedra it can cause increased heart rate and anxiety. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of dietary supplements containing ephedra in 2004.
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Is Anxiety Ever Good
Anxiety is the reason your ancestors survived, enabling you to be reading these words now. Anxiety reflects the sensations that are triggered in body and brain in response to perceiving a threat theyre intended as an alarm, to jolt you into paying attention and taking appropriate action to head off possible danger. In short, anxiety protects you. But the system is built to err on the side of caution, which is why we feel anxious even in the absence of a real threat. The sensitivity of the alarm can be reset by traumatic experience so that it is always on. Further, the threats can be wholly invented by your own imaginationthoughts of ways any situation could possibly go wrong. Neither flaw in the system diminishes the value of anxietyto keep you alive.
How Are Anxiety Attacks Diagnosed And Treated
- There is no test that can say for sure that you have an anxiety disorder. An anxiety attack can feel like symptoms of other health problems, so these problems need to be ruled out. For example, chest pain and shortness of breath during an anxiety attack can feel like a heart attack.
- Repeated anxiety attacks are a real health problem that needs to be treated. You may need to see a counselor. A counselor may help you understand what is causing the anxiety or fear. A counselor may help you learn relaxation techniques to decrease your anxiety. Medicine may also be needed to help your anxiety. It may take many months of treatment to make sure your anxiety attacks do not come back.
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How High Functioning Is Determined
There is little research on the topic of high functioning anxiety, but we do know that there is an optimal level of anxiety that fuels performance .
Based on this concept, your ability to function at a higher level might be increased if you had a mild to moderate level of anxiety .
IQ may also play a role in how well people with anxiety function in work and life. A 2005 study found that financial managers with high levels of anxiety made the best money managersas long as they also had a high IQ.
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Finding Help For Social Anxiety Disorder
Undiagnosed and untreated social anxiety disorder is a devastating condition that can severely limit daily functioning. Even when social anxiety sufferers realize they have a serious problem they may have difficulty asking for help, since therapists are authority figures and people with social anxiety disorder generally avoid interactions with authority figures if they can.
But social anxiety disorder is highly responsive to treatment, and when sufferers do summon the courage to ask for help they often achieve terrific results, both short-term and long-term.
While antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed for people with social anxiety disorder, psychotherapy is the core of social anxiety treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy in particular has been found to be effective against social anxietys most disabling symptoms, and is almost always recommended by mental health professionals who see social anxiety disorder patients.
Most treatment for social anxiety takes place on an outpatient basis. But people whove struggled with social anxiety disorder for many years can gain great benefit from inpatient stay in a mental health treatment facility, where all the focus is on recovery.
Social anxiety disorder is difficult to endure, but with the help of treatment services and mental health professionals its symptoms are manageable. Even though social anxiety sufferers sometimes have trouble asking for help, once they do they never regret it.
Why Does Separation Anxiety Disorder Occur
It is normal for young children to sometimes feel worried or upset when faced with routine separations from their parents or other important caregivers, and for older children and adolescents to experience mild anxiety when away from their families such as on school trips or when leaving home for the first time to attend college, university, or a job. Although less common, some adults also may have mild anxiety or fear when a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse/parent goes away for a period of time such as on a vacation or business trip. This response is part of the fight-flight-freeze system designed to protect us from threat and danger, and in small doses is useful. However, we expect that as these situations unfold, continue, and repeat, that the individual gets used to these separations. As a result, s/he discovers there is no danger, and becomes less and less anxious and learns to cope successfully. Yet, for some adults their response to actual or anticipated separations becomes far more extreme than would be expected, and continues each and every time a separation happens. In essence, they fail to adapt and appear unable to cope. For these adults, it is possible that they may have separation anxiety disorder.
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Getting Help For An Anxiety Disorder
If you think that you are, or a loved one is, suffering from an anxiety disorder, you should not wait to get help. When you call us at , our representatives will answer your questions and help you locate a treatment facility. The entire process is confidential.
A Response To The Challenge Of Emerging Adulthood
The third reason why people develop panic attacks is that they often experienced a period of high stress and stressful changes in the year or so prior to the onset of the panic attacks. These might have been bad events, such as feeling trapped in a bad job or relationship, or experiencing the loss of family and/or friends. Or they may have had a lot of changes which weren’t bad in themselves – finishing school, changing jobs, getting married, moving, buying/selling a home, having babies, etc. – but which had a cumulative stressful effect on the person to the point that he/she found it hard to cope with them all.
It’s interesting to note that, for most people who develop panic attacks, it usually begins in their twenties or thirties – the years of establishing an independent life for yourselves when you are most likely to experience these kinds of changes.
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How It Affects Your Life
Social anxiety disorder prevents you from living your life. Youâll avoid situations that most people consider ânormal.â You might even have a hard time understanding how others can handle them so easily.
When you avoid all or most social situations, it affects your personal relationships. It can also lead to:
- Low self-esteem
Understanding The Causes Of Social Anxiety Disorder
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
If you have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder , you may wonder what caused you to develop the illness. Rather than there being a single causative factor, it is likely a complex interplay of variables that result in the disorder.
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Stomach And Digestive Problems Can Feel Like Anxiety
There is a tight gut-brain connection. Our thoughts and feelings can affect our stomach and digestive system, and our stomach and digestive system can influence our thoughts and feelings.
Many anxiety disorder sufferers experience stomach and digestive problems due to their struggle with anxiety. Consequently, they equate their anxiety to their symptoms.
Antibiotics often cause stomach and digestive problems as side effects. Experiencing an increase in stomach and digestive problems because of antibiotic use could be misconstrued as experiencing an increase in anxiety. If an anxious person worries about an increase in anxiety and its symptoms, this worry will increase anxiety.
Once again, its not that the antibiotic has caused an increase in anxiety but that worrisome behavior has.
If you experience an increase in anxiety and its symptoms when taking an antibiotic, consider the above and work to contain your apprehensive behavior. Keeping yourself contained in spite of an increase in symptoms due to the antibiotic can prevent anxiety from escalating, which will prevent panic attacks.
Generally, the side effects of taking an antibiotic subside shortly after stopping the antibiotic . But in some cases , adverse reactions to antibiotics might take several months to clear. Talking with your doctor AND pharmacist about which medication is best for you could help you steer clear of those antibiotics that have the potential for long-term problems.
Famous People With High Functioning Anxiety
When trying to raise awareness of a social issue like mental illness, it can be helpful to identify well-known or famous people as examples.
Stars such as Barbra Streisand and Donny Osmond, and athletes like Zack Greinke and Ricky Williams, have all been forthcoming about their experiences with high functioning anxiety.
Scott Stossel, the national editor of The Atlantic,has written extensively about his experiences with anxiety in the context of his achievements.
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For Support And More Information:
- Anxiety attacks can be a life-changing condition for you and your family. Accepting that you have anxiety attacks is hard. You and those close to you may feel angry, sad, or frightened. These feelings are normal. Talk to your caregivers, family, or friends about your feelings. Let them help you. Encourage those close to you to talk to your caregiver about how things are at home. Your caregiver can help your family better understand how to support a person with anxiety attacks.
- You may want to join a support group. This is a group of people who also have anxiety problems. Ask your caregiver for the names and numbers of support groups in your town. You can also contact one of the following national organizations for more information.
- Anxiety Disorders Association of America 8730 Georgia Avenue, Suite 600Silver Spring, MD 20910
- National Institute of Mental Health , Public Information & Communication Branch6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184, MSC 9663Bethesda, MD 20892-9663Web Address: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/
Can Uncertainty Cause Anxiety
Uncertainty doesnt cause anxiety but it creates breeding grounds for anxiety, and the rise of uncertainty in much of public and private life may be one reason why anxiety has become the most prevalent mental health condition today. Worry, the cognitive component of anxiety, is activated by the mere possibility of a bad outcomeand for many modern concerns, possibility can almost never be ruled out entirely. But of course, possibility does not equal probability. Anxiety with its payload of worry can be seen as an attempt to avoid uncertaintyto dispel the discomfort it creates. The better approach, say experts, is to learn to tolerate some uncertainty and recognize that most of life is not black or white but shades of gray.
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