What symptoms are caused by anxiety?
Everyone feels anxiety from time to time. It's normal to feel stressed or worried about things that happen in our everyday lives. However, people who experience anxiety disorders often feel heightened fear or worry about common situations. The fear and worry don't go away and often increase or get worse as time goes on.
Symptoms of anxiety can interfere with your day-to-day life. You may experience both physical and mental symptoms that make it hard to cope with certain daily situations. Worry and fear are constant, which can make it difficult to respond to normal events or occurrences, maintain healthy relationships, or perform at work.
Anxiety is a mental illness that can get worse without proper treatment. However, there are symptoms of anxiety that you can look out for if you think that your worry and fear are interfering with your life.
Signs or symptoms of anxiety
While anxiety is mental, it can also be accompanied by several physical symptoms. It's very common for people to experience both.
The physical signs of anxiety can be harmful to your overall health. They can increase your risk for problems like cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and diabetes. Some common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- A strong, fast, or irregular heartbeat (heart palpitations)
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach ache
- Feeling tired
- Achy muscles
Anxiety disorders can also increase your overall body weight, belly fat, and blood pressure. Scientists believe changes in stress hormones and systemic inflammation to be the main causes of an overall decline in health in people with anxiety disorders.
The mental or psychological symptoms of anxiety can change the way you think, feel, and behave. Some symptoms include:
- Feeling nervous, irritable, or on edge
- Ritualistic behaviors
- Constant or uncontrolled worry
- Difficulty concentrating
- A sense of doom or dread
These symptoms may make it hard to be in social situations or cause you to withdraw. You may also find yourself constantly worrying about things like work or going out.
Types of anxiety
There are several kinds of anxiety disorders. People with different kinds of anxiety may feel or experience different symptoms. There are three categories under which anxiety disorders fall: anxiety, trauma-related, and obsessive-compulsive. Some of the most common types of anxiety are:
Causes of anxiety
Experts don't yet fully know what causes anxiety disorders. They think that anxiety is caused by a number of factors, both biological and environmental.
Some people experience anxiety because of a health issue. Anxiety can even be an indicator of an underlying issue. Your doctor may check for certain conditions if your anxiety symptoms prompt them. Some underlying medical causes of anxiety can be:
Many anxiety disorders run in families. Experts believe that 30-67% of these disorders are caused by hereditary factors. Having a relative who experiences symptoms of anxiety might also increase your risk.
Studies also suggest that certain personality types are more prone to anxiety than others.
People who are presently going through major stress or who have experienced trauma or witnessed a traumatic event during childhood have a higher risk of developing anxiety. Those who have a buildup of stress, either from one big event or a series of small events, can also experience symptoms of anxiety.
Diagnosis of anxiety
You should see your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety that are interfering with your life. This could be a physician or a mental health professional.
They may give you a physical exam to look at your physical symptoms of anxiety and ask you about your personal and family health history. They may also ask you for a urine sample or other testing if the suspected cause is medical.
Your doctor may also give you a mental health questionnaire or use the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to help diagnose your anxiety.
Treatments for anxiety
Treatments for anxiety depend on the severity of the symptoms and how much they are affecting your life. Generally, doctors will prescribe psychotherapy, medications, or both to help you treat your anxiety.
During psychotherapy, you work with a therapist to help reduce your anxiety symptoms. For generalized anxiety disorder, cognitive behavior therapy can be quite effective, as it teaches you sways to help you cope with and manage your anxiety.
Your doctor may also prescribe you medications like antidepressants, benzodiazepines, or buspirone. Talk to your doctor about how these may work for you, along with any possible side effects or health risks.
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Anxiety.org: "What is Anxiety?"
Beyond Blue: "What causes anxiety?"
Depression and Anxiety: "Anxiety and depressive disorders and the five-factor model of personality: A higher- and lower-order personality trait investigation in a community sample."
HelpGuide: "Anxiety Disorders and Anxiety Attacks."
National Health Service: "Symptoms: Generalised anxiety disorder in adults."
National Institute of Mental Health: "Anxiety Disorders."