There are several different types of anxiety, including, generalized anxiety disorder(GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Each type has some specific symptoms but can also present itself differently in each person. For example, while some people might experience fear in crowds, others might have a hard time talking to another person. In addition, symptoms can be mild, severe or anywhere in between. Anxiety, in other words, does not look the same in each person.
In all types of anxiety, people experience persistent and intense fear or worry, even when such fear or worry is not warranted by the situation and when other people would not have such reactions. People with anxiety often know their fear is unsubstantiated or irrational, but feel helpless to control it. Chronic feelings of worry are usually found in generalized anxiety disorder while sudden feelings of intense anxiety are considered to be panic attacks.
There are both emotional and physical symptoms of anxiety. Although they may be different in each person, and appear in varying intensities, there are a number of symptoms commonly experienced by people with all types of anxiety. Normally, anxiety attacks last less than one half hour, with a peak in symptoms occurring within ten minutes of the onset of the attack.
In addition to the feelings of worry and apprehension that go along with anxiety, people may struggle with the following emotional problems:
- Trouble concentratingIrritability
- Feeling as if you are going crazy (most often during a panic attack)
- Depression or mood swings
There are a number of different physical symptoms that occur along with anxiety. Some of these are caused by the stress on the body from worry; others are caused by intense emotions. Often, people will believe these symptoms are caused by a physical illness and make an appointment with the doctor. Sometimes, anxiety is first diagnosed because of the physical symptoms rather than the emotional symptoms.
People with anxiety can experience any of the following. Although some of the most common symptoms are listed, this is not in any way a comprehensive list. People can experience any number of physical symptoms.
Muscle tightness or tension
Sleep disturbances (trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep)
Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
Physical symptoms can be extremely severe during an anxiety or panic attack. Sometimes, people believe they are dying or having a heart attack.
The physical and emotional symptoms of an anxiety attack are frightening for many people.
For information on treating anxiety:
“Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Disorders”, 2008, June 6, Melinda Smith, M.A., Helpguide.org
“Anxiety Disorders”, 2007, National Institute of Mental Health