You know, we all have feelings of worry, fear, and anxiety sometimes. These can be normal responses to stressful situations. You might worry about a job interview, or about your finances or children from time to time.
But when anxiety gets in the way of a person’s daily living it can bring a whole other layer of suffering, as it interferes with work, relationships, and even leaving the house.
When you’re feeling more than just “anxious,” anxiety disorders can keep you from doing things as simple as driving a car or attending an event by yourself.
Different types of anxiety disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is common. The main symptom of GAD is over worrying about different activities and events. This may feel out of your control. You feel anxious a lot of the time if you have GAD. You might feel ‘on edge’ and alert to your surroundings.
This can affect your day-to-day life. You might find that it affects your ability to work, travel places or leave the house. You might also get tired easily or have trouble sleeping or concentrating. You might have physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and sweating.
It is common to have other conditions such as depression or other anxiety disorders if you have GAD.
GAD can be difficult to diagnose because it does not have some of the unique symptoms of other anxiety disorders. Your doctor is likely to say you have GAD if you have felt anxious for most days over six months and it has had a bad impact on areas of your life.
You will have regular panic attacks with no particular trigger if you have panic disorder. They can happen suddenly and feel intense and frightening. You may also worry about having another panic attack.
Panic disorder symptoms can include the following:
- An overwhelming sense of dread or fear.
- Chest pain or a sensation that your heart is beating irregularly.
- Feeling that you might be dying or having a heart attack.
- Sweating and hot flushes or chills and shivering.
- A dry mouth, shortness of breath or choking sensation.
- Nausea, dizziness and feeling faint.
- Numbness, pins and needles or a tingling sensation in your fingers.
- A need to go to the toilet.
- A churning stomach.
- Ringing in your ears.
You may also dissociate during a panic attack, feeling detached from your surroundings.
Certain situations can cause panic attacks. For example, you may have a panic attack if you don’t are claustrophobic, but need to ride an elevator. This doesn’t mean that you have panic disorder.
Social anxiety disorder is sometimes known as social phobia. Lots of people may worry about social situations but if you have social anxiety you will have an intense fear or dread of social or performance situations. This will happen before, during or after the event.
Some common situations where you may experience anxiety are the following.
- Speaking in public or in groups.
- Meeting new people or strangers.
- Eating or drinking in public.
You may be worried that you will do something or act in a way that is embarrassing.
You might feel aware of the physical signs of your anxiety. This can include sweating, a fast heartbeat, a shaky voice and blushing. You may worry that others will notice this or judge you. You might find that you try to avoid certain situations. You might realise that your fears are excessive, but you find it difficult to control them.
Your GP will ask you questions about your symptoms. And might ask you to fill out a questionnaire. This will help them find out how anxious you feel in social situations. They may refer you to a mental health specialist for a full assessment.
You can ask for a telephone appointment with your GP if it would be too difficult for you to see them in person.
Yep, phobias are anxiety.
A phobia is an overwhelming fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.
Phobias are stronger than fears. They develop when a person has increased feelings of danger about a situation or object. Someone with a phobia may arrange their daily routine to avoid the thing that’s causing them anxiety.
Common examples of phobias include the following.
- • Animal phobias. Such spiders, snakes or rodents.
- • Environmental phobias. Such as heights and germs.
- • Situational phobias. Such as going to the dentist.
- • Body phobias. Such as blood or being sick.
- • Sexual phobias. Such as performance anxiety.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult. Or situations where help wouldn’t be available if things go wrong. This could be the following.
- Leaving your home.
- Being in public spaces.
- Using public transport.
- Being in crowded spaces.
You might find that these situations make you feel distressed, panicked and anxious. You may avoid some situations altogether. This can affect day-to-day life.
Agoraphobia can make it difficult to make an appointment with your GP to talk about your symptoms. You might not feel able to leave your house or go to the GP surgery. You can arrange a telephone appointment if you have symptoms of agoraphobia.15 A GP will decide on the best treatment options for you depending on what you tell
What are the signs?
Anxiety can manifest both mental and physical symptoms.
- uncontrollable over-thinking,
- difficulties concentrating,
- feelings of dread, panic or ‘impending doom’,
- feeling irritable,
- heightened alertness,
- problems with sleep,
- changes in appetite,
- wanting to escape from the situation you are in, and
- heavy and fast breathing
- hot flushes and blushing
- dry mouth
- hair loss (alopecia)
- fast heartbeat
- extreme tiredness or lack of energy
- dizziness and fainting, and
- stomach aches, diarrhea and sickness