Experiencing anxiety occasionally is completely normal. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, it could be stress leading up to the first day of school, an upcoming job interview, or a scarily long list of things to do and no time to do them. For many people, these feelings of anxiety and stress come for a brief time and then leave. For others, these feelings seem to linger and affect their day to day life because the feelings are either intense or last for an extended period of time. If feelings of stress and anxiety stay for months or are very intense, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Not all anxiety disorders are the same. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Characterized by excessive anxiety, worry, and tension, even about routine or normal future events.
- Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia: Described by an extreme fear of being judged by others in a social setting, or experiencing anxiety about normal social events.
- Panic Disorder: People with panic disorder often experience panic attacks, often at random times, which are typically accompanied by symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, and fluttering of the heart. Many people with panic disorder experience anxiety thinking about their next potential panic attack.
- Specific Phobias: The specific fear of a certain object, activity, or situation. Fear is typically experienced when interacting with the specific object, activity, or situation, or when thinking about it.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: Anxiety associated with being away from loved ones.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by repeated and unwanted thoughts that lead to repeated actions.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after a person either experiences or is threatened with grave bodily harm or another traumatic event.
Causes of Anxiety
While researchers aren’t completely sure of all of the causes of anxiety, we do know that anxiety is different for each person, and some things that contribute to anxiety disorders are genetic and environmental factors, behavioral decisions, health and medical conditions, and the chemistry of your brain.
Symptoms of Anxiety
There are many different symptoms of anxiety. Each person feels anxiety differently so it is difficult to create a comprehensive list. Some symptoms you may feel if you have anxiety include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Struggling to control worry
- Increased heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Feelings of a coming danger, doom, or panic
- Feelings of nervousness or feeling tense
- Trouble focusing on anything but your fear
Since anxiety can express itself differently in each person, if you think you may have an anxiety disorder it is important to speak with a professional like a doctor or counselor/mental health provider.
Are There Tests to Diagnose Anxiety?
There is not an immediate test and result to diagnose anxiety like there is for strep throat or the flu. Diagnosing anxiety requires many physical and mental health evaluations, as well as psychological assessments or questionnaires.
As we mentioned before, anxiety is different for everyone. Most doctors will use various scales and tests to determine anxiety levels.
How to Prevent Anxiety
Action can be taken to help reduce the effects of anxiety symptoms.
- Seek help now. If you’re feeling anxious, the sooner you can speak with someone about it and get help the better. It’s important to recognize that you aren’t alone.
- Do things you enjoy. Stay active, exercise, meditate, interact with people you care about and do other things that you enjoy doing. This can do wonders for your overall mental health.
- Stay healthy. Eating well, getting a good amount of sleep, and avoiding alcohol and drugs (which are known to worsen anxiety) are also great ways to help prevent anxiety.
Here at Momentum Counseling, our professionals are trained to help you manage any type of anxiety you are experiencing whether that is short or long term. Schedule an appointment with us today