Anxiety is a normal emotion. It’s your brain’s way of reacting to stress and alerting you of potential danger ahead. everyone feels anxious now and then. for example, you may worry when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. occasional anxiety is ok. but, anxiety disorders are different. they’re a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear. excessive anxiety can make you avoid work, school, family get-togethers, and other social situations that might trigger or worsen your symptoms. With treatment, many people with anxiety disorders can manage their feelings.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized anxiety disorder : You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
- Panic disorder: You feel sudden, intense fear that brings on a panic attack. During a panic attack, you may break out in a sweat, have chest pain, and have a pounding heartbeat (palpitations). Sometimes you may feel like you’re choking or having a heart attack.
- Social anxiety disorder: Also called social phobia, this is when you feel overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. You obsessively worry about others judging you or being embarrassed or ridiculed.
- Specific phobias: You feel intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as heights or flying. The fear goes beyond what’s appropriate and may cause you to avoid ordinary situations.
- Agoraphobia: You have an intense fear of being in a place where it seems hard to escape or get help if an emergency occurs. For example, you may panic or feel anxious when on an airplane, public transportation, or standing in line with a crowd.
- Separation anxiety: Little kids aren’t the only ones who feel scared or anxious when a loved one leaves. Anyone can get separation anxiety disorder. If you do, you’ll feel very anxious or fearful when a person you’re close with leaves your sight. You’ll always worry that something bad may happen to your loved one.
- Selective mutism: This is a type of social anxiety in which young kids who talk normally with their family don’t speak in public, like at school.
- Medication-induced anxiety disorder: The use of certain medications or illegal drugs, or withdrawal from certain drugs, can trigger some symptoms of anxiety disorder.
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
The main symptom of anxiety disorders is excessive fear or worry. Anxiety disorders can also make it hard to breathe, sleep, stay still, and concentrate. Your specific symptoms depend on the type of anxiety disorder you have.
Common symptoms are:
- Panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Feelings of panic, doom, or danger
- Sleep problems
- Not being able to stay calm and still
- Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands or feet
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing faster and more quickly than normal (hyperventilation)
- Dry mouth
- Tense muscles
- Thinking about a problem over and over again and unable to stop (rumination)
- Inability to concentrate
- Intensely or obsessively avoiding feared objects or places
- Anxiety Disorder Causes and Risk Factors
- Researchers don’t know exactly what brings on anxiety disorders. A complex mix of things plays a role in who does and doesn’t get one.
Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis
If you have symptoms, your doctor will examine you and ask questions about your medical history. She may run tests to rule out other health conditions that might be causing your symptoms. No lab tests can specifically diagnose anxiety disorders.
If your doctor doesn’t find any physical reason for how you’re feeling, she may send you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health specialist. Those doctors will ask you questions and use tools and testing to find out if you may have an anxiety disorder.
Your doctors will consider how long you’ve had symptoms and how intense they are when diagnosing you. It’s important to let your doctors or counselors know if your anxiety makes it hard to enjoy or complete everyday tasks at home, work, or school.