Anxiety is a synonym for worry, and that is something which everyone has to deal with at times. Consequently there is a lot of confusion about anxiety disorder. At what point does it go from being a normal emotion and becomes a diagnosed mental health issue? Here we will look at some of the symptoms which typify the disorder.
Cognitive Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Many of the psychological symptoms of anxiety disorder are also common in people who are going through a perfectly natural and normal period of worry. This includes a feeling of being tense and nervous, often accompanied by the dread that something terrible might be about to happen. These thoughts can be all consuming, making the person feel restless and unable to concentrate on much else.
A person with anxiety disorder may take these negative thoughts to extremes, for instance they might repeatedly ruminate on bad experiences. They are also more likely to feel paranoia related to their anxiety. Sufferers often report that they feel that other people are staring at them and can tell that they are anxious. People suffering from normal anxiety are less inclined to feel judged for their negative emotions.
Physical Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Everyone is familiar with some of the physical sensations which come with anxiety. There may be a fluttering in the stomach, and feelings of unease are often accompanied by slight nausea. Many people will also know what it is like to lose sleep because they are worried about something. But with anxiety disorder the physical symptoms are far more pronounced and often have no discernible trigger.
When a person is overwhelmed by anxiety the body goes into survival mode, commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” response. This stimulates the body so that it is ready for action, but when it comes to anxiety disorder there is nothing to react to and the physical sensations can be unpleasant. In particular, sufferers find hyperventilation and palpitations to be scary experiences.
Hyperventilation is the body’s way of oxygenating the blood in preparation for running, but rapid breathing can also create a sense of panic. When the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels become unbalanced, dizziness ensues. While fainting in this situation is rare, the fear of fainting can make the person even more anxious.
Palpitations can be equally terrifying for the sufferer, especially if the heartbeats are irregular or fast (known as tachycardia). People who are prone to this symptom often go on to develop panic disorder, which is characterized by recurrent panic attacks. This is because tachycardia can trigger a fear of death, and the anticipation of further heart related symptoms can exacerbate the anxiety. A vicious cycle is created.
It is normal to feel worried or apprehensive occasionally, or even to feel anxious for several weeks if you are going through a stressful life event. As a result, most doctors are reluctant to diagnose generalized anxiety disorder unless the symptoms have been consistent for a period of at least eight to twelve weeks. If your anxiety levels are affecting your life, early treatment can help you overcome the disorder before it becomes debilitating.
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