Everyone experiences anxiety on occasion. This is a normal part of life and nothing to be concerned about. However, if anxiety worsens, continues unabated, or begins to cause problems in everyday life, it may be a sign to seek help.
Recognizing the Signs: Identifying Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
If you’re asking yourself questions like “Which anxiety disorder do I have?” or “How do I know if I have an anxiety disorder?,” it may be helpful to review the common symptoms of anxiety disorders to discern whether they pertain to what you’re experiencing.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Not all symptoms occur with each type of anxiety disorder, although experiencing multiple symptoms is common.
- Excessive worry
- Sensing impending panic, danger, or doom
- Feeling that things are out of control
- Weakness or tiredness
- Frequent headaches
- Rapid breathing
- Increase in heart rate
Self-Assessment: Reflecting on Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviors
How are you feeling now? A self-assessment can help answer that question. As illustration, let’s do a brief anxiety disorder quiz to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Quiz: How Bad Is Your Anxiety?
Start by asking yourself these questions. Answer honestly since this is a confidential self-assessment. No one else has to know you’re taking it. Keep notes and mark down your answers with the following choices: Never, rarely, sometimes, often, or very often.
- Do you find yourself worrying about many different things?
- When anxious, do you become easily annoyed and irritable?
- Are you worn out or fatigued when you are anxious or worried?
- Is it difficult for you to control your worries?
- What about falling asleep? Does anxiety or worry make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep?
- Do you experience jumpiness?
- Is it difficult to concentrate because of worry or anxiety?
- What about things that occurred in the past? Do you worry about those?
- When anxious or worried, do your muscles become tense?
- What about things that may happen in the future? Do you worry about those?
- Do you find that you worry about how good you are at doing things?
- Has your anxiety developed after extreme stress or environmental factors?
- Do you struggle with day-to-day functioning because you cannot relax?
Seeking Professional Evaluation: The Role of Mental Health Experts in Diagnosis
If your anxiety persists and you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms, the earlier you seek professional help, the better. While you may think you have an anxiety disorder, the worry and anxiety may be due to an underlying medical condition. That’s where mental health experts and medical professionals come in. They are the ones who can assess and evaluate your condition and provide an accurate diagnosis.
Do you constantly ask yourself the question: What level of anxiety do I have? This isn’t conducive to lowering stress, which may exacerbate anxiety. It also does nothing to get to the root of what’s causing the anxiety or pinpoint the particular anxiety disorder.
Understanding Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Which anxiety disorder do I have? Try not to worry too much about which disorder you might have. Fixating on the condition may only add to the anxiety you’re already going through. Instead, consult a licensed provider such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who is qualified to diagnose your symptoms.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety and anxiety disorders are also some of the most common mental health issues in this country, and there are many different types of anxiety disorders.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), anxiety disorders affect about 30 percent of adults during their lifetime. Mental Health America (MHA) cites the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistic that more than 42.5 million adults in America are affected by anxiety disorders annually.
- Agoraphobia — Someone with agoraphobia has an intense fear of situations they feel they can’t escape from or where escape may be difficult. These include public transportation, enclosed spaces, and open spaces. Some people with agoraphobia are so incapacitated by fear that they cannot leave their homes.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder — Everything seems worrisome to those with generalized anxiety disorder. In other words, it isn’t one thing but several that cause excessive worry. this may be work, personal health, or interactions with others. The worry is commonplace for at least six months, although it may not be daily. Nearly 7 million adults have generalized anxiety disorder.
- Panic Disorder — Frequently occurring and unexpected panic attacks are characteristic of panic disorder. However, having a panic attack doesn’t necessarily mean someone has a panic disorder. The affected individual also stresses and worries about having these attacks again.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder — As it sounds, separation anxiety disorder is intense anxiety over being separated from those closest to you or with whom you feel most close.
- Social Anxiety Disorder — It used to be called social phobia. Social anxiety disorder is when someone has an intense fear of performing in public or being intensely afraid of social situations. Closely linked is fear of being judged negatively and embarrassed or visibly anxious in the presence of others. An estimated 15 million adults have social anxiety disorder.
- Specific Phobias — This type of anxiety disorder involves having intense or extreme fear about a situation or object. This is well out of proportion to the imposed danger. Some of the more common phobias include those about flying, fear of heights, injections, blood, and animals. About 19 million adults are affected by specific phobias. This makes particular phobias the most common type of anxiety disorder in the U.S.
- Other mental health disorders or conditions may also have anxiety symptoms. However, they are not considered anxiety disorders. These include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can develop within a few months or years after a traumatic experience, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which involves uncontrollable and recurring behaviors and thoughts that can cause intense anxiety.
It is also important to note that people with PTSD may also have panic disorder. Anxiety disorders and PTSD share some neurobiological features. Furthermore, the shame and guilt that some individuals experience with PTSD may lead to social anxiety disorder. Other research points to social anxiety disorder stemming from depression in those with PTSD.
Steps Toward Support and Treatment: Navigating the Path to Wellness
Statistics, signs, and symptoms can be upsetting and cause unnecessary worry, making you even more anxious. Yet, knowing that anxiety can be managed with appropriate treatment should be comforting.
When anxiety causes severe life disruption, getting the right support and treatment is the best way to overcome it. If you experience depression that comes with anxiety, this is much more difficult to cope with alone. Similarly, some medical health conditions can stem from anxiety, and attempting to deal with them on one’s own can be unsuccessful.
Many people experiencing anxiety try to self-medicate or numb themselves with alcohol and illicit substances. This can create a boomerang effect because the anxiety that prompted using alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism can worsen anxiety. This can make treatment more difficult. Yet both anxiety disorders and substance use disorders can be treated simultaneously.
What Are the Benefits of Anxiety Treatment?
Which anxiety disorder do I have? What level of anxiety do I have? These are critical questions for the treatment professional when seeking a mental health evaluation and consultation. You want to reduce or eliminate the disruptive symptoms and help rid yourself of the anxiety you’ve been experiencing. Anxiety specialists can get you started on this path toward healing and wellness.
What Happens During Anxiety Treatment?
During anxiety treatment, you’ll learn about the triggers and causes of your anxiety symptoms. This is part of effective anxiety treatment, regardless of the disorder.
Here are some other components and aspects of anxiety treatment that may be worth knowing about:
- Psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and other types of therapy are often used in anxiety treatment.
- Treatment for anxiety also includes learning coping strategies to help you deal with symptoms once they occur. Over time, these can help you navigate the most stressful situations and give you the confidence that you’ll be able to overcome them.
- Some anxiety disorders may require medications, like antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety. These help in controlling symptoms while you’re in treatment and sometimes afterward. Being prescribed medication for anxiety doesn’t mean you’ll take it forever, but it is essential to take it as your doctor directs. It is not uncommon for medication and dosage changes to be necessary until the most effective combination is achieved.
If anxiety is interfering with your daily life, our mental health professionals at Restore-Mental Health can help get you back to feeling your best. For more information about treatment options, contact us today.