Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

Understanding Anxiety

Learn About Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are a group of disorders that are characterized by excessive fear and apprehension, which can result in the manifestation of multiple behavioral disturbances. While anxiety disorders differ from one another in the objects or situations that induce fear or avoidance behaviors, all of them have the ability to cause significant disruption in an individual’s life. The following are examples of common anxiety disorders:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry about a wide variety of events or activities. The level of anxiety and worry associated with generalized anxiety disorder is out of proportion to the situation at hand; however, the individual has difficulty controlling his or her worrying and is often unable to stop worrisome thoughts from interfering with daily tasks.

Social anxiety disorder is marked by an intense fear or anxiety of social situations like when an individual could possibly be scrutinized by others. When in social situations, these individuals worry that they will be judged by as weak, stupid, boring, or unlikable.

Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks involve a sudden onset of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and causes a number of physical and cognitive symptoms. Such symptoms may include a pounding heart, trembling, sweating, chest pain, and related experiences.

Phobias exist when an individual experiences fear or anxiety as the result of a particular situation or object. When an individual has a specific phobia he or she will have intense anxiety or fear whenever he or she comes into contact with the phobia stimulus.

Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable and there are a number of anxiety treatment options that have proven to be effective for helping individuals with these disorders overcome the often debilitating symptoms.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Anxiety and Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person is struggling with an anxiety disorder it is common for them to also meet the diagnostic criteria for additional mental health conditions. The following disorders are those that are commonly diagnosed alongside anxiety disorders:

  • Other anxiety disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Impulse control disorders


Anxiety Statistics

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, approximately 40 million adults, or 18% of the U.S. adult population, are currently suffering from some type of anxiety disorder. Unfortunately, it is estimated that only one third of those with anxiety will seek professional treatment.

Causes and Risk Factors

Causes and Risk Factors for Anxiety

As is the case with many mental health conditions, the exact cause of anxiety disorders is not completely understood. However, a number of factors have been identified as playing a role in the onset of an anxiety disorder. The following are some of the most commonly agreed upon causes and risk factors that are believed to lead to the development of anxiety disorders:

Genetics: Most experts in the field of mental health have come to the conclusion that anxiety disorders run in families, which means those who have a relative with an anxiety disorder are more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves.

Environmental: One’s life experiences have also been known to play a role in the development of an anxiety disorder. For example, traumatic events, growing up in a chaotic household, or being the victim of abuse and/or neglect can all place an individual at an increased risk for the onset of an anxiety disorder.

Risk Factors:

  • Being female
  • Being the victim of or witnessing a traumatic event
  • Presence of a health condition or serious illness
  • Constant exposure to stress
  • Personal history of mental health disorders
  • Family history of anxiety
  • Substance abuse

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

The signs and symptoms experienced by those with an anxiety disorder are going to depend upon the specific type of anxiety an individual is suffering from. The symptoms associated with anxiety disorders can range in severity from mild to severe and can influence the way an individual feels, thinks, and behaves. The following symptoms may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Is socially withdrawn
  • Avoids certain people, places, or things
  • Unable to relax
  • Restlessness
  • Angry outbursts
  • Has an exaggerated startle response
  • Participates in ritualistic and/or repetitive behaviors
  • Decline in occupational performance

Physical symptoms:

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Choking sensations
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Hyperventilation
  • Hot flashes
  • Lightheadedness
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Problems concentrating
  • Persistent state of apprehension or fear
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Nightmares
  • Repetitive thinking
  • Obsessive thinking
  • Absentmindedness
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Feeling detached from one’s surroundings
  • Persistent state of apprehension and fear
  • Feelings of panic or doom
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Ongoing feelings of worry
  • Intense nervousness


Effects of Anxiety

When an individual suffering with an anxiety disorder does not receive the treatment that he or she needs, it is very likely that he or she will experience a number of negative effects in many aspects of his or her life. The follow are some effects that have been known to occur when anxiety disorders are left untreated:

  • Development of depression or other mental health condition
  • Development of a substance use problem
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Digestive or bowel problems
  • Discord within interpersonal relationships
  • Conflict among family members
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Decline in occupational functioning
  • Loss of employment
  • Engagement of self-harming behaviors
  • Suicidal ideation and behaviors
  • Overall poor quality of life

My anxiety got to the point where it severely affected my quality of life. After seeking treatment at Starlite Recovery Center, I am able to deal with my symptoms in a better manner and am able to go back to a healthier life!

– Caroline G.