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Many people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or even sub-clinical anxiety that they are faced with on a daily basis. Although each person with GAD has their own individual experiences with anxiety , there are certain common symptoms among the majority of people who suffer from this common disorder. It is important to keep in mind that not everyone with GAD will have all of these symptoms, and most people with anxiety find that their anxiety ebbs and flows depending on what else is going on in their life. For example, the more stressful their external circumstances become, the more likely that their anxious symptoms will be exacerbated.
3 Common Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
- Intense worrying and often internal questioning about current, future and even past scenarios along with a focus on negative hypothetical outcomes.
Example anxious thought: “What if my son gets a bike? What if his father doesn’t remind him to wear his new helmet when he rides? What if he falls off the bike, or worse a car comes and hits him? What if he cracks his head open? Maybe I shouldn’t let him get a bike. Should I let him get a bike? It could be dangerous. Maybe I should let him get a bike, I don’t want to be controlling. But what if he really hurts himself on the bike?”
2. Replaying certain memories, thoughts, and/ or experiences over and over again in their mind, and worrying about them.
Example: “Why did I say that stupid thing in that meeting? I shouldn’t have said that. Maybe they think I’m stupid now? What a stupid thing I said. I should have known better. Will I get another chance to present to the board? What if they don’t give me another chance? What if I lose my job because they think I’m stupid? What if someone was recording the whole meeting? What if they tell other people outside the company? What if I have to start looking for a new job but nobody is hiring? I shouldn’t have said that stupid thing at the meeting.”
3. Physical symptoms and panic attacks:
The more intense anxiety often leads people to have physical symptoms like: increased heart rate, tingling in their hands, difficulty sleeping, pressured speech, and even panic attacks and other issues. In addition, many people with generalized anxiety disorder have an underlying “hot thought” or deep underlying worry that they are either going to die or go crazy when they feel extremely anxious (even if they rationally know in their calmer moments that this is not true). Some people who have had panic attacks then become anxious and fixated on the fear that they will have future panic attacks.
The point is…
Most people who suffer from GAD will struggle with frequent negative worrying about present, future, and or past experiences, thoughts, or potential scenarios. The good news is that although anxiety can be very difficult, it is very common and usually treatable with a combination of motivation to improve it, psychotherapy and/or medications (in the more severe situations).
Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
Several types of anxiety disorders exist:
- Agoraphobia (ag-uh-ruh-FOE-be-uh) is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
- Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
- Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
- Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.
- Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
- Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged ored negatively by others.
- Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
- Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if:
- You feel like you’re worrying too much and it’s interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
- Your fear, worry or anxiety is upsetting to you and difficult to control
- You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
- You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
- You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — if this is the case, seek emergency treatment immediately
Your worries may not go away on their own, and they may get worse over time if you don’t seek help. See your doctor or a mental health provider before your anxiety gets worse. It’s easier to treat if you get help early.
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Stress is a response to a threat in any given situation (such as a tight deadline at work, having an argument with a friend, etc.).
Anxiety is a person’s specific reaction to stress. Unlike stress, anxiety persists even after the situation has been resolved or passed.
The American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
In other words, anxiety is an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.
There are two kinds of anxiety and stress inducing situations, those that happen once such as a traumatic event like a bereavement or near car crash and those that happen repeatedly such as work pressure (stress), relationship problems or negative family situations. Anxiety and stress inducing situations which happen once are more easily controlled, the event happens and the subject addresses and deals with the issues arising from that situation. The mind files the experience away as a memory and the person moves on. With events that happen constantly over a period of time the subconscious is affected and certain bodily systems can be ‘re-set’ which causes the physical manifestations of stress and anxiety.
The most common anxiety symptoms are:
- Insomnia – Probably the most common. When you have insomnia (hard to fall and/or staying asleep), you are a little more “cranky” and irritable than usual. Even you notice it.
- Lack of focus – You might have a difficult time concentrating, especially if you are concerned about other things.
- Physical symptoms – You might be on “edge” a lot, restless, uptight. You may have feelings you are not familiar with but know they shouldn’t be there.
- Worry / Tension, to the extreme – You may have irrational worries or concerns about loved ones, things, situations.
- Headaches – This physical symptom often occurs with many of the most common anxiety disorders. Sweating, muscle tightness, nausea and frequent urination are also present. You notice these things because they are not, or at least didn’t use to be, normal for you.
Anxiety symptoms range a great deal from person to person.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental diseases. There are different types of anxiety disorders:
- GAD (generalized anxiety disorder)
This disorder is characterized by an excessive and unrealistic amount of worry on a daily basis. You can’t sleep at night, you experience stomach-ache, headache, heart palpitations, and other physical symptoms, like nausea. You are constantly tense and you can’t relax. You fear that something bad is going to happen.
- SAD (social anxiety disorder)
when you have this disorder, you are terrified by doing things in front of others (like speaking, eating, walking, even breathing!!). You are hyper aware of yourself. You can relax, but only when you are alone or with people who you know well. You feel that other people hate you, and that they are constantly judging you in a bad way.
- OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
You are afraid that something bad is about to happen, and to avoid this fact, you adopt repetitive and sometimes weird behaviors (known as compulsions), like, if I chew this piece of bread five times before I swallow it, I’ll not suffocate. Or: if i jump three times before entering the room, my parents won’t have an accident today. You also experience intrusive thoughts (what if..? ).
- phobias (arachnophobia, agoraphobia, ..)
You experience an intense fear caused by a specific thing or a specific situation and you avoid it at all costs.
- panic disorder
You experience sudden bouts of fear with no warning, and these attacks are so strong that you lose your sense of time, you breathe really fast and you feel like you’re going to die. A panic attack it lasts for about ten minutes usually. A panic attack is often confused with a heart attack because the physical symptoms are similar; chest pains and nausea.
- PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
You develop this disorder after experiencing a strong psychological trauma, such as war, physical or sexual assault. The symptoms are: nighmares, numbness, flashbacks, self destruction, anger and irritability. Physical symptoms are: chest pain, agitation, headaches and dizziness.
Sorry for bad English ^^
Many people tend to feel anxious in stressful situations. However, people are more likely to confuse panic attacks as the main symptom of general anxiety disorders and this ambiguity leads them towards complications. Sometimes, it’s not possible for us to understand or identify the accurate disorder without the help of an expert as every person goes through various emotional phases with a general anxiety disorder.
Though identifying the right illness is essential to get the right treatment. Here are a few “the most common” symptoms of general anxiety disorders that have been declared by clinical professionals.
- Excessive worry along with anxiety attacks
Now, it may sound a bit complicated for us as we all know that general anxiety disorder or anxiety disorder, both these conditions are likely to generate excessive worry and stress.
However, to clear the confusions, clinical psychologists have stated that people with general anxiety disorders deal with anxiousness more often which does not occur in more than 6 months and the anxious level is always high. General anxiety disorder can generate excessive stress about the future and small events or any general topics.
2. Worries that are impossible to control
Individuals who suffer from general anxiety disorder are unable to control their thoughts over anything. They tend to repeat their worries over something that have already occurred. This worries can even shift from one topic to another very frequently without their understanding. Psychologists say that with general anxiety disorder, it’s extremely difficult to have control on the thoughts or the panic that are getting generated by various events.
3. The physical symptoms need to be necessarily diagnosed along with the emotional stages in order to diagnose a general anxiety disorder.
Here are the common and main physical symptoms of GAD
- Feeling of excessive restlessness about every moment.
- Feeling of fatigues more than usual where individuals go through tiring thoughts throughout the day that may cause them increased heart rate and extreme nervousness.
- People with GAD often experience blankness in their mind more often. It’s like they exactly don’t know how to deal with stress or what exactly will be the right way to overcome the thoughts and sometimes they even feel deep anxiousness about dying or other thoughts.
- Apart from this, muscle aches, soreness – these are also considered as the physical symptoms of GAD.
- Restlessness at night, sleeping difficulties.
A proper assessment is important..
During a session with an expert, you will be asked about your feelings clearly and the clinician will consider each and every diagnostic area and definitely help you go through the entire process. So, it’s advisable for people with GAD to seek help from the experts as they could show you the right path to overcome it.
If you are unable to remove negative thoughts even after tryout out various stress management strategies, it’s a good option to visit a clinic and get the right treatment so that you can gain back your wonderful life.
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In my opinion, these are the three big symptoms:
- Unexplained fear and worry. The body goes into a fight and flight reaction, even though the person hasn’t left the house or done anything threatening. The mere thought of facing the day brings heart palpitations, shaking and feeling shut off from anything good. Essentially, you are trapped in your head with these obsessional thoughts that tell you everything will not be fine, but awful. You find yourself stuck in fear. It is hard to get out of that mindset as it is like a loop replaying in your head.
- Scattered thoughts—inability to focus. The anxious person is basically in overdrive, so details like names, bringing something to work, going to appointments, homework assignments and even what do I do next become hard to remember. A lot of memory skills fall apart because so much energy goes into dealing with the stressful situation at hand.
- Self soothing habits that are counterproductive. Some people binge eat when they are anxious. Some drink to take the edge off. Some pull their hair out as there is something comforting in the ritual. Some can’t sit still, so their legs shake or they play with their hair or get up, walk, then sit down. Some keep scrolling their phone or tablet, looking for something to calm themselves down. Some do things that society initially rewards, like obsessively cleaning their house or attending about 8 cultural events in a day. This is because they cannot sit with their feelings, so there is a need to do something—anything. It helps to keep the anxious thoughts at bay.
These are things I have seen in others, plus I have trouble with scattered thoughts and poor concentration when I feel very stressed. Usually around the close of the semester, I begin forgetting basic information. Since I expect this, I write things down to remember, or I set my phone to remind me of key events. I never realized this was a symptom of anxiety until I read it in a book and had an aha moment. When I have a lot of deadlines and people depending on me to perform, I see my life as disorderly and out of control. It usually passes once the stressful period has ended.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder sucks.
This is a general question. It was written a lot about. No need for personalised answers. You may read in ICD 10 about symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder followings:
- A condition marked by excessive worry and feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness that last six months or longer. Other symptoms of gad include being restless, being tired or irritable, muscle tension, not being able to concentrate or sleep well, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, sweating, and dizziness.
- An anxiety disorder characterized by excessive and difficult-to-control worry about a number of life situations. The worry is accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, inability to concentrate, irritability, muscle tension, and/or sleep disturbance and lasts for at least 6 months.
- An anxiety disorder characterized by free-floating, persistent, and excessive worry for at least six months.
- Apprehension of danger and dread accompanied by restlessness, tension, tachycardia, and dyspnea unattached to a clearly identifiable stimulus.
- Apprehension or fear of impending actual or imagined danger, vulnerability, or uncertainty.
- Fear and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful – it can make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out of the situation that caused it. But for millions of people in the United States, the anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time. They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to leave home. These people have anxiety disorders. Types includepanic disorder obsessive-compulsive disorder post-traumatic stress disorder phobias generalized anxiety disorder treatment can involve medicines, therapy or both.
- Feeling of distress or apprehension whose source is unknown
- Feeling or emotion of dread, apprehension, and impending disaster but not disabling as with anxiety disorders.
- Feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress. A person with anxiety may sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heart beat. Extreme anxiety that happens often over time may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
- Term was discontinued in 1997. In 2000, the term was removed from all records containing it, and replaced with anxiety disorders, its postable counterpart.
- Unpleasant, but not necessarily pathological, emotional state resulting from an unfounded or irrational perception of danger; compare with fear and clinical anxiety.
- Vague uneasy feeling of discomfort or dread accompanied by an autonomic response (the source often nonspecific or unknown to the individual); a feeling of apprehension caused by anticipation of danger. It is an alerting signal that warns of impending danger and enables the individual to take measures to deal with threat.
Well, I ain’t no psychologist to tell you. In fact I was begging my parents to take me to a therapist, so they could tell me if I even have anxiety in the first place or I’m just being overdramatic. Now I know they probably can’t diagnose you with a snap of their fingers, but I was desperate. I still am. People tell me – ,, no, you don’t have anxiety, you’re just shy and you want attention and to be different so bad, that you self diagnose with mental illnesses, that you don’t have, because it’s trendy.” I’m sure a lot of people with actual mental ilnesses have heard that, as well as people that it would apply to. As I said, I’m no proffesional to be sure If I have it or not. People around me don’t believe me, my parents too, so they wouldn’t let me go to a psychologist. I know shy people and I know I feel worse than them in social situations. I know my ,, shyness” doesn’t only come down to being shy in front of strangers or nervous when I talk to a crowd. I’m anxious all the time. Just before I enter my classroom every morning, my stomach clenches. I’m not a new student and I’m not being bullied or scared by any of my classmates. I get shortness of breath before I meet up with my friends. Friends I’ve known for over 10 years. I avoid or get nervous sometimes even when I talk to my own parents. I can’t sing in front of them, jokingly, I can’t loosen up and dance when we’re listening to music. Being vocally examined by my teachers in front of the class about lessons I know like the back of my hand, makes my whole body shake, stomach ache, voice tremble and makes me want to throw my guts up. I get scared shitless when my phone rings and it isn’t my mom. I usually just see who’s calling, hang up and text them, because I just can’t talk over the phone. There’s a lot of things I can only say through a text. I stiffen up, blush, my hearts starts to pound whenever someone asks me a question about myself, because I’m so scared they’ll start making fun of my answer. Don’t get me started on having a fight with someone, my heart starts beating so fast, I get all red and flustered and I get immediate diarrhea. When I go out in public by myself, I constantly look around to see if someone’s staring at me and I get so self conscious that they are judging my hair, or my pimples or my eyebrows or the way that I look, or my crooked teeth that they can’t even see, because I’m not smiling. Ever. Cause I’m just so scared. I don’t dress up girly, do my hair or make up, because people are so used seeing me like this, I don’t want to hear what they have to say if I change. I’m scared that even with a dress and a face full of make up they are still going to think that I’m ugly. I stop myself mid talking and shut up, because I worry what I had said might have sounded weird. I feel so small and vulnerable when I’m outside by myself, without a group of friends to raise my self esteem. In fact the other day I was in the bus and I gave two coins to the guy for my ticket, he had to give me one back as change, but he forgot and I didn’t say anything to him, even though I needed the coin for another bus and I just ended up walking there. In the kindergarten there was one girl who used to sent her friend to threaten me and beat me up. I was too scared to stand up to her, but even more scared to tell the teacher. This ,, shyness” has made me go through the most awkward moments of my life. Two years ago, I was so scared of people my age that I went out and played with the kids. I was 15 at the time and they were 10. My mom was worried about me, she’d sent me to hang out with a girl from my class, who was also my neighbour, and her best friend. I wouldn’t know what to say to them, even though, I’ve grown up with them, so I would just sit down next to them and not say anything. Literally. Not even a ,, hi”. And when they’d get up to go somewhere else, I’d just follow them quietly. That was two years ago, mind you. I was 15. And there’s thousands more examples, I’d need days to count out. Now, I don’t know am I shy, have I spent too much time on tumblr, do I have anxiety, am I just lazy, or fucking weird and damaged, but whatever it is I just want it gone. I’d give up anything to be fixed.
There are many symptoms of health anxiety and everyone’s body reacts slightly differently. I’ve struggled with health anxiety since my wife’s death from cancer a few years ago and I’ll share some of the symptoms I’ve struggled with.
My health anxiety first manifested as a general worry that I’d get cancer and die. This was due to my experience with my wife and watching the process of her illness and death. I thought every ache or pain was an early sign of cancer in my body.
I was able to control this mostly by thinking about how rational these thoughts were. I mean, it doesn’t make much sense that a butt itch would be from cancer. But that’s where my mind went.
Then I started to get psychosomatic symptoms. The first was light-headedness that would randomly come on. I’d feel slightly dizzy and sick to my stomach. I never felt like I was going to faint, and actually, exercising and moving helped. I’ve had a history of concussions so I thought it was due to that, but talking to my doctor, we think it was actually health anxiety.
Then I started feeling tingling and numbness in limbs and body parts. I mostly felt this in my legs, feet, arms, ears and cheeks. It felt like the body parts were “asleep”, but the sensation would just appear as I was sitting at my desk and then eventually it would just disappear.
The next symptom I experienced was a tightness in my throat. It almost felt like a sore throat but it just felt tight and didn’t get worse when I swallowed. I could breathe fine, but it was definitely uncomfortable.
I also experienced chest and abdominal pains that would come out of nowhere. These were so bad that I went to the emergency room once thinking that I was having a heart attack. Then I had a panic attack in the waiting room and stormed into the nurse’s room telling them I was going to die. One grumpy nurse just rolled her eyes and told me to wait. Don’t blame her, to be honest. That must happen a lot.
I’ve been able to manage all of these symptoms despite still having worry about contracting illnesses. I’ve mainly been able to do this through meditation, prayer, social support, and challenging my automatic thoughts.
I also wrote on Medium about my experience with health anxiety during this coronavirus pandemic so you can check that out through my bio.
Hmm that’s a good question.
Oh yes you can do a test alright.
But it’s so easy literally anyone could do it.
You don’t really need me or anyone to show you. Just Google the main symptoms, which anyone can find out and asses on say a scale of between 0–10.
Simply make a list of all the symptoms you have had, whilst being stressed out or generally worrying or having anxiety.
This is not an exhaustive list, and you may experience other stuff- less or more than the following examples listed.
Sweaty palms, cold sweats, shaking trembling, heart palpitations,dry mouth repetitive panic attacks, digestive disturbances, stomach aches, stomach cramps, uncomfortable (not euphoric or nice) unpleasant rush of adrenalin,signifying the flight or flee syndrome…dilated pupils, light headedness, unable to catch your breath, dizzyness,weakness, light headedness; intrusive negative thoughts going round and round in your head.
A general feeling of unease that you cannot control the stress you feel, nausea, fidgeting restlessness; an unexplained tendency to worry obsessively. picking or chewing your nails, or scratching your skin. Feeling out of synch, unable to relax generally, unexplained aches and pains or pins and needles in any part of your body, not able to sleep, or oversleeping, a general malaise as if something bad is going to happen, and its impossible to feel calm or in control.
Chewing fingers/nails, muscle stiffening,stiff neck, headaches hand or teeth clenching, ticks of any kind, interrupted sleep patterns, inability to face general living day to day, stammering, distracted, heartburn vomiting indigestion, avoiding others, appetite decreasing or increasing; hair pulling/ twisting, unable to control fast beating heart, breathlessness. over eating, or under eating. Exhaustion due to ‘’being on edge,’ easily irritated, tearful,abnormally snappy, feelings of fear or dread.; waking up in the night worrying. Tense stiff muscles pain in neck back shoulders etc. Unable to concentrate on hobbies or favourite pastimes. A decline in concentration and memory due to the anxiety sapping your physical and emotional strength. Sudden outbursts, Gradual decline in mood and energy.
I think you get the general idea.
Anxiety symptoms can be numerous and varied. They involve our body, mind and behaviour.
- Palpitations (Rapid / strong / irregular heartbeat).
- Fast and shallow breathing.
- Trembling and shaking.
- Legs feel like jelly.
- Excessive sweating.
- Dry throat and difficulty swallowing.
- Dizziness and feeling light-headed.
- Tightness across the chest.
- Needing the toilet.
- Generally feeling ‘on-edge’.
Other problems associated with physical anxiety symptoms may include: constant headaches, insomnia, and various muscle pains due to increased and prolonged tension.
- Feelings of apprehension and dread.
- Being ‘mildly scared’ for much of the time.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Starting to worry more.
- Increased self-consciousness.
- Thoughts about illness.
Anxious behaviour depends on personal beliefs about what is stressful and vary from person to person. However there are some common ones which include:-
- Making excuses to avoid going out or doing things.
- Hurrying out of places or situations where we feel anxious.
- Only going to quiet places where there aren’t many people.
- Not saying anything in front of others.
- Sitting near doors and exits or at the back.
- Walking to avoid buses; crossing the street to avoid people.
- Having a drink or taking a tablet before doing something stressful.
Check out our free eBook: Anxiety Symptoms: What Happens and Why for more information.