An anxiety disorder is a mental condition. A person with anxiety feels fear and dread about specific situations or people. He or she may worry about it to the point that uncontrollable physical symptoms develop.
Anxiety disorder symptoms can mimic other conditions like a heart attack. Only a healthcare provider can diagnose an anxiety disorder, and there are several subtypes:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Separation Anxiety
- Social Anxiety
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Anxiety, in its typical form, is not unhealthy. It is your body’s reaction to stress and the fight-or-flight response. Anxiety makes you hyper-aware of the threat so you can escape the danger. But today, we have fewer predators. Instead, our minds translate threats as overdue bills, overwhelming workloads, family drama, and marital conflict.
Do any of these anxiety disorder symptoms sound familiar?
Common anxiety disorder symptoms.
Researchers are still learning why some people are more prone to anxiety disorder symptoms than others. You may develop symptoms if:
- You have a family history of anxiety disorders and other mental conditions.
- You are a shy or reserved person.
- You experienced trauma in childhood or adulthood.
- You are in an environment with high-stress levels.
Read through the following list of common anxiety disorder symptoms and talk to a counselor about managing your symptoms.
Inability to focus.
Your mind wants to protect you from danger, making you hyperaware of the problem when threatened. As a result, you find it difficult to focus on other tasks. This is a beneficial response when running from a wild animal, but not so much while at work.
You may have racing or intrusive thoughts. You may not hear what someone is saying because your mind wraps around your worry and fear.
You may excessively worry about small things to the point that you make yourself physically ill. For example, you may worry because your adult child didn’t answer their phone when you called, and your mind has created tragic scenarios. As a result, you may be unable to continue your day until you hear from them.
You might experience several of these stressful situations throughout the day: for example, an adult child not answering the phone, an unfamiliar car parked on your street, an overdue bill, and losing the television remote. Most people take these situations in stride, but someone with anxiety can imagine the scenarios and meanings behind these events.
Feelings of impending doom.
Gut instinct is the feeling that something is off and not quite right. For example, someone with anxiety feels impending doom and dread. They may not know why they feel this way or what they are worried about, but the emotion is there.
People feel impending doom during and after a life-and-death situation: an accident, violent confrontation, or natural disaster. The body recovers rather quickly from this stress response, but the sensation can last longer for those with an anxiety disorder. A counselor can teach you techniques to ease these emotions.
Irritability or anger.Do you snap at people? Do you find that you lose your temper more often? Anxiety disorders can make you irritable, with less patience with others. You may have mood swings. You may go through highs and then experience periods of lows. Other mental conditions like bipolar disorder can coexist with an anxiety disorder, compounding symptoms.
If your anger has you physically or verbally lashing out at others, seek help immediately. A counselor can help you with anger management as you seek anxiety disorder treatment.
Anxiety can keep you from getting restorative sleep. Your fears and worries can weigh on your mind, making it difficult to fall asleep. As a result, you may wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to calm your mind enough to fall back to sleep.
To help counter this anxiety and insomnia, create a bedtime routine to signal your mind that it is time to unwind. For example, take a warm bath, stretch tight muscles for a few minutes, and settle into bed with a book. In addition, try other stress reduction techniques to lower your cortisol (stress) hormone levels.
Rapid heart rate.Rapid heart rate or palpitations are common anxiety disorder symptoms when confronted with a trigger or the memory of an event, trauma, or person. You may find that your heart beats faster even when you are not consciously thinking about a trigger. This underlying anxiety winds its way through your subconscious.
A counselor can help you identify the thoughts you may be unaware of causing your heart palpitations. Your physician should rule out any medical conditions before you seek treatment for an anxiety disorder.
Shaking or trembling.
Do you experience uncontrollable shaking or trembling? What about tension headaches or stomach upset? These are physical anxiety disorder symptoms. When cortisol and adrenaline release, you can have anxiety tremors. This trembling usually goes away on its own in a few minutes.
You can treat tension headaches or stomach issues with an over-the-counter medication, but you will want to seek counseling to get to the root of your anxiety.
How to ease anxiety.
Your goal is to ease anxiety by lowering adrenaline and cortisol levels in the body and working through the root of your anxiety. Your counselor may introduce you to various techniques, including cognitive behavioral therapy methods and relaxation techniques.
You can also do the following to reduce your stress levels and ease anxiety:
Although exercise raises stress levels temporarily as you perform the activities, the long-term benefits are lower stress levels, improved body image, and boosted immunity. It also appears that intentional physical movement makes stressful situations and problems easier to manage.
Allowing yourself a few minutes every day to free write in a journal your thoughts gets them out of your head and onto the page. Write your worries and fears in the journal. You can also use your notebook as a prayer journal, asking God to take the fear and anxiety away from you and to handle the situation.
Deep breathing techniques can lower your stress levels and ease anxiety. When your anxiety is high, your breathing is rapid and shallow. Taking a few minutes to settle your mind and breathe deeply can calm your anxiety. Inhale through your nose, completely filling your lungs, hold your breath for a few seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth.
Call a trusted friend.
When your anxiety seems too much, remove yourself from the trigger and call a trusted friend. Distracting your mind and focusing on your friend will lower your anxiety levels. Ask about your friend’s day or family. Ask if your friend needs you to pick anything up for them from the store. Getting outside ourselves and serving others also boosts endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, naturally lowering stress.
Find a support group.
A support group introduces you to others dealing with anxiety disorders. The attendees are at different stages and subtypes of anxiety disorders. Your local community center, health clinic, or hospital may host support groups for people with anxiety disorders. You can also find support groups online that meet through forums or Zoom video calls. Make sure you choose an organization hosted by a mental health care professional.
Trusting your treatment to a mental health care provider ensures that you receive the best treatment for your type of anxiety disorder. A counselor provides a safe place to discuss and suggest strategies to ease your anxious thoughts and reactions. Your counselor may be available to meet with you in person or virtually.
Are you looking for treatment for anxiety disorder symptoms?
Anxiety disorder symptoms can be scary. Contact our office to schedule an introductory appointment and assessment with a counselor. Your counselor will help you implement behavioral therapy strategies to reframe your thoughts and lessen your response to anxiety. Call us today to get the help you need from a qualified Christian counselor.
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