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Anxiety Center

Anxiety Symptoms

Symptoms of anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and can affect anyone.  Anxiety often occurs when people hold in their fears over time. Each anxiety disorder manifests different symptoms, but all the symptoms include excessive, irrational fear and dread.  The major signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder include:

  • Constant and unrealistic worry about everyday activities
  • Endless checking or rechecking action
  • Fear and anxiety that appear for no apparent reason

Physical signs of an anxiety disorder often accompany psychological symptoms of disorders.  We'll review the main disorders and related symptoms so that you can get a better idea of if you should seek help.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) - The main characteristic of GAD is chronic, exaggerated worry, tension, and irritability that appear to have no cause or are more intense than the situation warrants. Physical signs that can accompany psychological symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea
  • headaches
  • irritability
  • muscle tension, trembling or twitching
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • trouble falling or staying asleep

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) - OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts or compulsions.  If a person with OCD does not act upon compulsive thoughts, then anxiety builds up and is accompanied by ritualized behavior that helps relieve anxiety.

Panic disorder - Panic disorder manifests as a sudden, uncontrollable attack of terror that usually lasts from 30-90 minutes.  Panic disorders can lead to agoraphobia, which may eventually lead a person to avoid certain activities. Symptoms of panic disorder include:

  • chest pains
  • choking
  • fear of dying
  • feeling out of control or going crazy
  • feelings of unreality
  • hot flashes or chills
  • lightheadedness or dizziness
  • nausea
  • numbness or tingling
  • pounding heart
  • shaking or trembling
  • shortness of breath
  • sweating

Phobias - A phobia is an irrational fear of one thing. Social phobia includes a persistent fear of exposure to criticism or embarrassment by others, for example. These irrational fears can lead people to avoid specific things or situations that trigger intense anxiety.  Many physical symptoms that accompany panic attacks also occur with phobias:

  • pounding heart
  • sweating
  • trembling

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - PTSD is defined as emotional distress or numbing due to a terrible life threatening experience. People experiencing PTSD avoid situations that remind them of the traumatic event, because they provoke intense distress or even panic attacks. Symptoms of PTSD include:

  • constantly reliving a traumatic event
  • difficulty concentrating
  • exaggerated startle reactions
  • general emotional numbing
  • insomnia
  • nightmares
  • persistent anxiety

If you believe you or a loved one is experiencing an anxiety disorder, we suggest that you seek medical help or another form of support.  Read on to learn more about how to diagnose anxiety disorders in the next section.

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