When anxiety becomes excessive and interferes with daily activities, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Start a search to learn more about common symptoms of this disorder and when it may be time to speak to a doctor or therapist.
Anxiety is a normal part of life and can even be beneficial in certain situations. But if it’s severe or frequent, it may be best to talk to a mental health professional to get a diagnosis and treatment.
Anxiety in America
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults, or 19.1% of the population, every year. Women are twice as likely as men to develop an anxiety disorder. It is important to recognize the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and seek help if needed.
One of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder is excessive worrying. People with anxiety disorders often have difficulty controlling their worry and may worry about everyday things such as work, finances, or relationships. This worry is often out of proportion to the actual situation and may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as fatigue, restlessness, and difficulty sleeping.
Another symptom of an anxiety disorder is irrational fears. People with anxiety disorders may have a specific phobia, such as a fear of flying or heights, or they may experience generalized anxiety about a variety of situations. These fears can be debilitating and may interfere with daily activities such as work, school, or social events.
Panic attacks are a common symptom of an anxiety disorder. They are sudden, intense episodes of fear and anxiety that may be accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, and sweating. Panic attacks can be frightening and may lead to avoidance of situations that trigger them.
Obsessive Thoughts or Behaviors
Obsessive thoughts or behaviors are another symptom of an anxiety disorder. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may have intrusive thoughts or images that they cannot control, and may engage in repetitive behaviors such as handwashing or checking locks to alleviate their anxiety.
Anxiety disorders can also cause physical symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, and gastrointestinal problems. These physical symptoms may be caused by the body’s natural “fight or flight” response to stress, which can cause changes in breathing, heart rate, and digestion.
Social anxiety is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety may fear being judged or embarrassed in social situations, and may avoid situations such as parties or public speaking. Social anxiety can be debilitating and may interfere with work or social relationships.
Anxiety disorders can also cause fatigue. People with anxiety disorders may have difficulty falling or staying asleep, which can lead to daytime fatigue. In addition, the constant worry and stress associated with anxiety can also be exhausting.
Finally, anxiety disorders can cause difficulty concentrating. People with anxiety disorders may find it difficult to focus on tasks at hand, and may have trouble completing assignments or making decisions. This difficulty concentrating can also be caused by physical symptoms such as fatigue or restlessness.
When to Speak to a Doctor or Therapist
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to speak to a doctor or therapist. Anxiety disorders are treatable, and early intervention can improve outcomes. Treatment may include therapy, medication, or a combination of the two. In fact, a recent study by the University of Toronto found that of those who received treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, 7 in 10 study participants are free of the disorder and 40% go on to have excellent mental health.