If you’ve been feeling more worried or anxious than usual, you are not alone. Many people today feel like their anxiety, and stress levels are much higher than tolerable or normal. Every day, we are faced with stressful and unexpected situations that can make it difficult to feel calm and optimistic. But there is a fine line between feeling anxious and actually suffering symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
The positive aspects of anxiety are embedded in your DNA and a vital physiological response that causes the body to go through several changes to prepare for potential or perceived threats. For example, normal anxiety can mean the difference between you getting up early enough to arrive at work on time or sleeping and clocking in late.
On the other hand, the negative aspects are the persistent effects of the fight or flight response that causes your heart to pound harder and faster, makes it difficult to get sleep well, and intense thoughts of worry, doom, and gloom are not good for your physical and mental health in the long run. If you experience these sensations more often than not, you may have an anxiety disorder.
It’s estimated that 30 percent of adolescents and 20 percent of adults experience some type of anxiety disorder every year. Although symptoms are similar, many are unaware there are several types of anxiety disorders that are prevalent across the country.
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?
Anxiety can be experienced in lots of different ways. According to the American Psychiatric Association and the DSM-5-TR, the diagnostic criteria for anxiety disorders include having symptoms that occur more days than not within six months. If you or a loved one experience the following anxiety symptoms, it’s time to contact The C.U.B.E. for help! Our therapists are here to help you determine if your symptoms are due to anxiety or something else and provide the support and guidance you need to overcome them.
The most common physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders include:
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Joint and body aches
- Panic attacks
- Elevated cardiac activity or heart palpitations
- Sweating and feeling hot
- Stomach or gastrointestinal issues
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Sexual dysfunction
- Aggressive behavior
Anxiety disorders also cause the following emotional and mental changes.
- Increased tension, irritability, or anger
- Persistent worrying or feelings of hopelessness
Women are more prone to anxiety disorders than men. The lifetime risk for females is two times that of their male counterparts. Though symptoms vary widely from person to person, they are in most cases, treatable. Many who end up with a clinical anxiety diagnosis undergo counseling, medication, or a combination of both for relief.
What Are the Most Common Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a normal stress response. But it can be disabling when it becomes hard to control and affects your day-to-day life. Below are the most common types of anxiety diagnosed across the country.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Also referred to as GAD, symptoms include chronic anxiety, persistent worrying, anxiousness, and stress. Many people with GAD suffer from severe symptoms that mimic >panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other types of anxiety. These feelings often occur in the absence of triggers and involve various situations or events.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: This form of anxiety is commonly called PTSD and usually develops after exposure to a shocking or traumatic event. Because everyone differs in perception and emotional response, what’s traumatic or PTSD-causing to one is not necessarily as emotionally damaging or traumatic to another. Everyone experiences and responds to trauma differently.
Social Anxiety Disorder: SAD is another name for this anxiety disorder. It causes an overwhelming sense of self-consciousness and an intense fear of social situations. Symptoms include feelings of embarrassment and anxiousness over small social interactions, such as eating or speaking in front of others, to more prominent situations that involve unfamiliar people/crowds, settings, or places. Symptoms can be so severe that they lead to isolation, which can be unhealthy.
Anxiety is cormbid with the following two disorders:
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: OCD is another term for this condition. It’s a lifelong disorder that causes chronic uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). OCD causes those afflicted to experience significant anxiety and stress over their obsessive thoughts. These feelings often persist until the obsession is dealt with, only to return repeatedly.
Panic Disorder: Panic disorder causes episodes of overwhelming fear when there is no identifiable cause. This feeling can be so intense that it causes abdominal distress, shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, and dizziness. Panic attacks are often a frightening experience for the sufferer and onlookers. Sometimes, the symptoms are so severe that it renders the sufferer homebound.
Treatment is tailored to the diagnosis. Treatments range from lifestyle changes to medications and cognitive and behavioral therapy. The most effective anxiety treatments generally involve a combination of lifestyle adjustments, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Counseling for Anxiety Disorders at the C.U.B.E.
Talk therapy teaches those living with anxiety to identify their anxious thoughts and patterns and reframe them to influence positive and normal behaviors and actions. Individuals also learn how to calm themselves and become more tolerant of their triggers.
If you have any of these symptoms and want to check if you are at risk of experiencing an anxiety disorder, see a C.U.B.E. therapist for an anxiety screening.