People with anxiety disorders frequently experience intrusive thoughts or anxieties repeatedly throughout their lives. They might avoid certain situations because of fear. Physical side effects such as shaking, sweating, nausea, or an increased heartbeat are also possible.
Although fear and anxiety are not the same things, they are frequently used interchangeably. Fear is a proper, in-the-moment reaction to a recognized and precise threat, but anxiety is a long-lasting, broadly focused, future-oriented response to a diffuse threat.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety occurs when your body enters a fight-or-flight mode because of:
- feeling threatened,
- being under pressure or in a challenging situation such as a job interview,
- an exam, or
- a first date.
There are situations in which anxiety is beneficial. It can maintain your awareness and concentration, motivate you to act, and help you devise solutions to problems. If your worries or fears overwhelm you or interfere with your relationships or regular activities, you have likely crossed the line from normal anxiety to an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders might differ from person to person because they are a collection of related illnesses rather than a single problem.
- Some people experience sudden, severe anxiety episodes, whereas others become anxious just thinking about socializing.
- Some may have intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts or a crippling fear of driving, whereas others can be in a perpetual state of anxiety, worrying about everything.
Although they can take many forms, all anxiety disorders cause intense fear or excessive worry about the circumstance.
Although having an anxiety condition might be incapacitating and hinder you from leading the life you choose, it's crucial to realize that you're not alone. Anxiety disorder is one of the most common and easily treated mental health issues. Once you are aware of your anxiety disorder, you may take steps to reduce the symptoms and take back control of your life.
8 signs of being anxious
Anxiety can result in a wide range of physical complaints. People who experience anxiety may experience the following physical symptoms and mental health issues:
Anxiety frequently manifests as the feeling of dizziness, such as feeling:
- Off-balance, especially in large or crowded spaces
- A sensation of spinning or swaying from side to side
Anxiety and light-headedness can be related to one another in a feedback loop. People who worry about losing their balance, falling, or losing control in a public situation may become anxious whenever they feel dizzy, and one symptom may worsen other symptoms.
According to research from the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, this occurs when the vestibular system (which helps control movement sensations in your environment and your body's position) interacts with the limbic system, which controls emotional experiences.
Many people find that avoiding physical activity or situations likely to produce anxiety or stress is an excellent way to cope with their worries. Over time, this might have a detrimental effect on one's quality of life.
2. Chest pain
Is one anxiety symptom that regularly causes worry, especially when it's accompanied by a rapid increase in heart rate and breathlessness. Because chest pain can also be a sign of a heart attack, many people with this symptom worry that it's life-threatening. When there is no apparent medical cause for their pain and heart palpitations, people may become angry and upset and seek emergency medical attention.
According to one study, of the 151 people who reported chest pain, 59 percent also showed signs of anxiousness. A 2006 study supports the notion that anxiety, rather than a heart problem, is frequently present in people who seek emergency care for chest pain. An impending heart attack and panic episodes can seem very similar.
However, a person having a heart attack will likely feel a squeezing ache, which could extend to their jaw or left arm. Women frequently have pain in their shoulders or upper back.
3. Digestive issues
Anxiety is frequently physically manifested by a persistent stomachache. According to a medical study, this occurs because of the brain-gut link. Shared nerves between the intestines and the brain have the potential to interact negatively, impairing routine body functions.
Most people experience “butterflies” in their stomachs or nausea when anxious or concerned. However, those who experience persistent anxiety may become aware of graver problems, such as:
- Chronic stomach pain or cramping
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Worsened irritable bowel syndrome
- Appetite changes
Anxiety and mental discomfort might be exacerbated by worrying about symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea in public. Some individuals may even find it challenging to carry out daily activities due to long-term gastrointestinal distress, which can considerably affect their quality of life.
4. Breathing difficulties
Many people experience respiratory problems when anxious. These issues include symptoms such as:
Usually, these symptoms disappear after a short while. They typically occur whenever there is tension, fear, or nervousness. It's usual to experience choking during a panic attack and to think you're having trouble breathing. These emotions can be terrifying, and they frequently worsen the emotional symptoms of anxiety.
Physical symptoms of anxiety might also include tingling or numbness. Anxious people frequently feel this in their hands, arms, legs, or feet. It is sometimes described as pins and needles.
According to experts, it occurs because of physical arousal. Anxiety symptoms start to appear when the body feels threatened; in response to this perceived threat, the body diverts blood away from the extremities and toward the heart and other vital organs.
Additionally, hyperventilation may be a cause of tingling and numbness. When you hyperventilate, your blood becomes overly oxygenated. The body doesn't produce enough carbon dioxide to keep up with normal operations because of the extra oxygen present. As a result, blood vessels constrict, and the body stops pumping blood to the hands, feet, and other less vital parts. In addition, this deficiency in carbon dioxide can cause other symptoms, such as headaches, elevated heart rate, and light-headedness.
6. Chronic pain
Chronic pain and anxiety disorders are linked; they frequently coexist and aggravate each other.
According to a 2013 study, of 250 people who reported having chronic pain, 45 percent also displayed signs of at least one sort of anxiety. In comparison to individuals who did not have anxiety symptoms, people with chronic pain and anxiety symptoms typically experienced more pain and a lower quality of life.
Headaches can occur as an anxiety symptom for several reasons, which include:
8. Emotional symptoms
In addition to the fundamental symptom of excessive and unreasonable anxiety and worry, other common emotional symptoms include:
- Feeling tense and jittery
- Watching for signs of danger
- Anticipating the worst
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Feeling like your mind's gone blank
- Trouble concentrating
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