On 12:11 PM by NY Drs. Urgent Care
What is anxiety? We have all felt anxiety—the nervousness before a date, test, competition, presentation—but what exactly is it?
Anxiety is our body's way of preparing to face a challenge. Our heart pumps more blood and oxygen so we are ready for action. We are alert and perform physical and emotional tasks more efficiently.
It is normal to feel anxious when our safety, health, or happiness is threatened; however, sometimes anxiety can become overwhelming and disruptive and may even occur for no identifiable reason. Excessive, lasting bouts of worry may reflect an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety disorders: Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and with several symptoms appearing together.
- Inability to relax
- Unrealistic or excessive worry
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
- Nausea, chest pain or pressure
- Feeling a "lump in the throat"
- Dry mouth
- Irregular breathing
- Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
- Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
- Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
- Thoughts of death
Types of Anxiety Disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry and tension, much more than the typical anxiety people experience in their daily lives. People may have trembling, twitching, muscle tension, nausea, irritability, poor concentration, depression, fatigue, headaches, light-headedness, breathlessness or hot flashes.
Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder have panic attacks with feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During the attacks, individuals may feel like they can't breathe, have lost control, are having a heart attack or even that they are dying. Physical symptoms may include chest pain, dizziness, nausea, sweating, tingling or numbness, and a racing heartbeat. Some people will have one isolated attack, while others will develop a long term panic disorder; either way, there is often high anxiety between attacks because there is no way of knowing when the next one will occur. Panic disorders are twice as common in women as men, and often begin early in adulthood. Many people with panic disorder also suffer from agoraphobia (abnormal fear of open or public places.).
Phobias are irrational fears. Individuals with phobias realize their fears are irrational, but thinking about or facing the feared object or situation can bring on a panic attck or severe anxiety.
Phobias are often fears of a particular object or situation. Commonly feared objects and situations in specific phobias include animals, tunnels, water and heights. The most common specific phobia is fear of public speaking.
Social Phobia, or Social Anxiety Disorder, is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have a fear of being judged by others, being embarrassed or being humiliated. This fear may interfere with work or school and other ordinary activities.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by uncontrollable anxious thoughts or behaviors. Individuals with OCD are plagued by persistent, unwelcome thoughts and images or by the urgent need to engage in certain rituals. Some OCD sufferers may only have obsessive thoughts without the related rituals. The disturbing thoughts or images (e.g., fear of germs) are called obsessions, and the rituals performed to try to get rid of them (e.g., hand washing) are called compulsions. For example, people who are obsessed with germs may wash their hands excessively. The individual is not happy to be performing the ritual behaviors but finds this to be the only way to get temporary relief from the obsessive thought.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects people after terrifying events such as physical or sexual abuse, car accidents, war or natural disasters. Individuals with PTSD may experience depression, flashbacks, nightmares, sleep difficulties, irritability, aggression, violence, and a feeling of detachment or numbness. In general, symptoms seem to be worse if the event that triggered the PTSD was initiated by a person. Symptoms can be triggered by anything that reminds the individual of their trauma and often begin within 3 months after experiencing the trauma.
What is a panic attack? Panic attacks can be caused by heredity, chemical imbalances, stress and the use of stimulants (such as caffeine or drugs).
Some people have only one or two attacks and are never bothered again. Panic attacks can occur with other psychiatric disorders. In panic disorders, however, the panic attacks return repeatedly and the person develops an intense fear of having another attack. Without help, this "fear of fear" can make people avoid certain situations and can interfere with their lives even when they are not having a panic attack. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the problem and get help.
More information on anxiety is HERE!
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