What is Anxiety?
The feeling of excessive worrying or anxiousness that a person gets when they have to face a stressful situation is known as anxiety. People describe this feeling as having butterflies in the stomach. Everyone experiences anxiety at some point in their life. Having feelings of anxiousness before an event like giving a speech, appearing for a job interview, or showing up for the first day in school, is very common.
Short-term anxiety is the natural response of our bodies to a stressful situation, and it does not require any medical attention, as such symptoms fade away after the stressful event is over. For some people, symptoms of anxiety might last for much more extended periods like for years. People with long-lasting anxiety need medical attention to treat their anxiety disorder.
The symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person, but there are some common issues that anyone who has anxiety disorder experiences. These symptoms include.
People with anxiety might find it hard to stay still in a place. They describe this feeling of restlessness, as being on edge or having an uncomfortable urge to move. According to a study done on 128 children with anxiety disorder, about 74% of the participants reported to have restlessness as one of the main symptoms. Though all the people with anxiety do not experience this condition, doctors often look for it while making a diagnosis.
Some research states that anxiety and insomnia are closely linked together, as having difficulty in sleeping during childhood might cause a person to develop anxiety later in their life. Having trouble falling asleep and waking up during the night are two of the most common symptoms among people with anxiety.
Feeling of Agitation
When a person feels anxious, their nervous system goes into overdrive, which can make the brain believes that they are in real danger. For preparing the body for fight or flight response, the brain diverts blood away from the digestive system and towards the muscle. It also increases the heart rate and heightens the senses.
It results in the person feeling intense effects, such as, racing pulse, shaky hands, sweaty palms, and dry mouth.
Difficulty in Concentrating
Many people with anxiety disorders reported having problems focusing on a given task. Some studies also suggest that anxiety can interfere with working memory that is responsible for storing short-term information. This symptom can clarify why the performance of people often decreases during the period of high anxiety.
These attacks produce an overwhelming and intense sensation of fear that can be quite disruptive. Along with this extreme fear, a person can also experience sweating, shortness of breathing, shaking, sweating, increased heartbeat, nausea, chest tightness, and fear of losing control or dying.
Becoming exhausted is also a sign of generalized anxiety disorder. For some people, an anxiety attack can lead to fatigue, but for others, this might be chronic. However, it is not clear whether it occurs due to other common symptoms of anxiety, like muscle tension, or it is related to the hormonal effects of chronic anxiety disorder.
People with anxiety disorder tend to worry excessively. It is the most common symptom of this condition, and people with anxiety disorders find it difficult to control it.
People with anxiety show a disproportionate amount of worrying in response to the events which typically occur in everyday situations. Worrying too much can also be intrusive and make it difficult for people to concentrate on the day to day activities.
Most of the people who have an anxiety disorder also exhibit the signs of having excessive irritability. As per the findings of a recent study, at least 90% of the adults with a generalized anxiety disorder reported high irritability during the periods when their anxiety was at its worst.
Social anxiety disorder affects approximately 12% of adults in the United States. It usually develops in early life and makes people appear extremely shy and quiet in groups or when meeting new people.
This condition can sometimes make the person with social anxiety disorder appear standoffish or snobby, but this disorder contributes to low self-esteem, high self-criticism, and even depression.
People with anxiety disorders can develop extreme concerns about certain things, like enclosed spaces, spiders, heights, etc. which could be a sign of a phobia.
Some of these fears are legitimate, but others are irrational. The extreme anxiety about a particular situation or object can have adverse effects on a person’s well being. In some cases, these fears can start to interfere with their ability to function normally. About 13% of the Americans experience a phobia in their life, which usually develops in childhood.
Some of the common phobias experienced by people with anxiety disorders include.
- Fear of blood, needles, injures, or injections
- Fear of specific situations like an elevator ride or an airplane
- Fear of natural events like floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.
- Fear of various animals or insects
Along with these phobias, some people have another type known as Agoraphobia, which involves fear of at least 2 of the following things
- Being alone outside of the home
- Being in open spaces
- Using public transit
- Being in a crowd
- Standing in a line
- Being in enclosed spaces