Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life and can be shared by almost every individual at some point. However, when this anxiety becomes frequent, intense, excessive, and persistent and an individual starts having worry and fear about everyday situations, it is no longer considered normal. The anxiety then becomes a disorder, a type of mental health condition.
Often anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear or terror that can reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). These feelings can interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger, and can last a long time. We may avoid such situations, but it’s not always up to us; that is when we need professional medical help.
We can have more than one anxiety disorder which usually includes generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder. Sometimes anxiety results from a medical condition that needs treatment.
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms of anxiety vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have, but general symptoms can be categorized under three states:
- Cold or sweaty hands
- Dry mouth
- Heart palpitations or having an increased heart rate
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Muscle tension
- Shortness of breath or breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Feeling weak or tired
- Feeling panic, fear, and nervousness
- Nightmares or hallucinations
- Repeated thoughts or flashbacks of traumatic experiences
- Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
- Inability to be still and calm; being fidgety
- Repeated abnormal behaviors, such as washing hands repetitively
- Trouble sleeping
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Common Factors That Cause Anxiety Disorders
The most common factors that cause anxiety disorders are:
- Family history: People with a history of mental health issues in the family may have problems with anxiety. For instance, OCD can be hereditary.
- Stressful events: Stress at the workplace or school, loss of a loved one, or troubled relationships can also trigger anxiety symptoms.
- Health issues: People who have already been suffering from depression can further develop symptoms of anxiety disorders. Moreover, asthma, diabetes, or heart disease may lead to anxiety.
- Substance use: People who are heavy users of drugs, alcohol, and other substances develop anxiety problems when the effects begin to wear off.
- Personality factors: Sometimes, people with certain personality traits, such as perfectionists or people who like to be in control, develop anxiety-related issues.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?
If you feel you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider, and they’ll start with a complete medical history and physical examination. Your provider may run some tests to rule out health conditions causing symptoms. If your healthcare advisor finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses according to specific needs.
Pristine Mental Health is available for high-quality mental health care to help with all anxiety disorders. Located in Olympia and Lacey, WA, our expert, qualified clinicians offer a tailored approach to each patient. Contact us today for more information!