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For everyone that wonders what kind of symptoms there are with anxiety there can be more but these are the most common


Everyone feels worried, tense, or anxious at times - the butterflies in the stomach before making a speech, heart pounding after a near car accident, the tension felt waiting for the results of a test. Anxiety or fear is a normal response to a threatening situation. Some level of anxiety can be helpful. Anxiety can help people deal with a threatening situation, study harder for an exam, and perform better in sports.

When anxiety interferes with the ability to cope and disrupts daily life, the person may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are illnesses that may make people feel anxious most of the time, without an obvious reason. People may get occasional but intense moments of anxiety that immobilize them.

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental disorders. Many people misunderstand these disorders and think they can get over them alone. This usually does not help. Fortunately, there are many treatments available today to help.

Anxiety disorders are often related to chemical imbalances in the nervous system and to life experiences. Some medical conditions such as anemia and thyroid problems can cause symptoms of anxiety. In addition, certain drugs such as caffeine, alcohol, diet pills, and stimulants can cause anxiety.

Different Types of Anxiety Disorder

Doctors divide anxiety into several different categories that help in creating guidelines for treatment. These are the main types:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects about 4% of the population in a given year. GAD is twice as common in women as in men. GAD usually appears in childhood or adolescence. Worries tend to be about normal things (work, money, chores, etc.), but exaggerated. It's called generalized because there's no particular source of fear. The cause isn't known, but children of people with GAD are more likely to develop anxiety problems.

Panic attacks and panic disorder: panic attacks are extremely common, affecting about 1 in 3 people each year. People with phobias may have a panic attack if they encounter the object of their fear. Panic disorder is much less common. It's recognized as recurring feelings of terror and fear, which often come on unpredictably, without any clear trigger. Most panic attacks last a couple of minutes, but can go on up to 10 minutes. After a while, fear of panicking becomes a sort of phobia in itself, as the sufferer tries to avoid situations that might provoke one. Panic attacks can begin at any age, but most often begin in young adults.

Phobic disorders are irrational, intense fears about a particular object or situation. Phobias are common, affecting more than 1 in 10 people. Some phobias begin in childhood, such as fear of animals, the dark, or of strangers, while others usually appear in adulthood, as in phobias of weather, water, heights, flying, or enclosed places. The inconvenience of a specific phobia depends on how likely you're to encounter the object of your fear. The most debilitating types are agoraphobia and social phobia. Agoraphobia (literally, "fear of the marketplace") is anxiety about being caught in public situations when panic develops. It can develop after an embarrassing public panic attack. Social phobia may be a general shyness or fear of particular situations like public speaking. It tends to be more common in women but more severe in men.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is equally common among men and women, and affects about 1.6% of the population in a given year. Sufferers are bothered by recurring images or ideas that are unpleasant. They develop repetitive habits (rituals) that they find drive away these unwanted thoughts. The images and ideas may be connected to the repetitive habits. For example, people who fear infection may wash their hands constantly, or those who fear burglars may repeatedly check that the door is locked. Sometimes there's no connection at all between the thoughts and the rituals.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute stress disorder are the only types of anxiety with a clear cause. Extreme anxiety often appears after a frightening or horrible experience, particularly if there were injuries or deaths. Acute stress disorder comes on quickly after a traumatic event and lasts less than a month. Feelings are often complicated by guilt, unworthiness, and betrayal in those who have survived such a stressful experience but lost loved ones to it. PTSD, a longer-lasting, more severe form of acute stress disorder, is particularly common in war veterans.

Some symptoms of anxiety are common to all of the types of anxiety disorders. Other symptoms are more specific to a certain type of anxiety disorder. A person may have an anxiety disorder if any of the symptoms listed below interfere with their daily life in any way. Anyone who suspects they may have an anxiety disorder should talk to their doctor.

The common symptoms of anxiety disorders can include:

inability to relax
chronic and exaggerated worry and tension
trouble falling asleep or staying asleep
muscle tension
muscle tension
hot flashes
startling easily
feeling tired
trouble concentrating
recurring unpleasant thoughts
repetitive habits (e.g., washing hands)
chest pain or discomfort
dizziness or faintness (actual fainting is extremely rare)
fear of dying
fear of going crazy or losing control
feelings of unreality, strangeness, or detachment from the environment
flushes or chills
nausea or abdominal distress
numbness or tingling sensations
palpitations ("fluttering" in the chest) or accelerated heart rate
shortness of breath or smothering sensation

[This message has been edited by windtrooper (edited 05-15-2003).]

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