Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety Symptoms

Feelings of worry, fear and anxiety are generally considered normal reactions to stressful circumstances. For instance, financial worries, stress from a personal relationship or problems at work can cause anxiety. This is known as the 'fight or flight' response and it can give a person the ability to respond to a difficult situation.

Once the problematic circumstance is over, an individual will normally return to their usual state. For people with anxiety disorders, however, anxiety symptoms are ongoing and this can disrupt their daily routine. The following are common anxiety disorders and their associated symptoms:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) - the psychological symptoms of GAD are characterised by excessive worry or anxiety about various activities or events. For a diagnosis of GAD to be made, the psychological symptoms need to happen more often than not and for at least 6 months. The physical anxiety symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension and insomnia.

  • Panic disorder - the cognitive signs of panic disorder include a fear of losing control. A person may also feel detached from themselves or their surroundings during a panic attack. To receive a diagnosis of panic disorder, a patient generally has a fear of future panic attacks.

Their behaviour might have also been altered in an attempt to avoid situations that may induce a panic attack. The physical anxiety symptoms of panic disorder include heart palpitations, shaking, dizziness and shortness of breath.

  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD) - this condition is primarily characterised by a fear of social situations whereby an individual may be exposed to scrutiny by others, which may result in a negative evaluation. Common psychological symptoms include anxiety, nervousness and panic attacks. Physical symptoms include rapid heartbeat, muscle tension and shaking.

  • Specific phobias - the mental symptoms of specific phobias like aerophobia include an overwhelming sense of fear, fear of losing control and a desperate need to escape the feared situation. Typical physical anxiety symptoms of specific phobias include a racing heart, difficulty breathing and trembling or shaking.

Is Anxiety a Medical Condition?

Anxiety is generally viewed as a medical condition if it is overwhelming, persistent and interferes with daily activities. Like physical health issues such as hypertension or coronary artery disease, anxiety disorders are medical conditions that should be taken seriously.

Even though anxiety disorders can be effectively treated, only about one third of people who suffer with these conditions receive the medication or therapy they need. While anxiety disorders can be disabling, it is important to understand that these conditions affect many people.

Main Causes of Anxiety

The exact cause of an anxiety disorder may be complicated and often involves more than one single factor. A combination of aspects may play a role in the development of an anxiety condition and the following table describes these factors:

Cause of anxiety Description
Personality traits People with specific personality traits may be more inclined to develop an anxiety condition. For example, individuals who are easily agitated, lack self-esteem or have a controlling personality may develop an anxiety disorder.
Stressful life events An anxiety disorder may develop as a result of stressful life events such as the following:

  • Psychological distress after a traumatic event
  • Interpersonal relationship issues
  • Physical or emotional trauma
  • Stress at work or a job change
Genetic inheritance Sometimes, people with a close relative who has an anxiety disorder may be more likely to develop an anxiety condition themselves. However, having a close relative with an anxiety disorder does not necessarily mean a person will invariably develop an anxiety condition.
Other psychiatric conditions Other mental health conditions like depression and additional anxiety disorders may increase the likelihood of developing another anxiety condition.
Physical health problems Long-term physical illnesses like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure can contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder.
Can Anxiety Be Cured?

Can Anxiety Be Cured?

Anxiety disorders are considered the same as medical conditions and although they cannot be completely cured, they can be effectively managed. Once you have an understanding of your condition, there are important steps you can take to decrease your anxiety symptoms and regain control of your general well-being. The right treatment can help reduce exaggerated worries so that you can function well on a daily basis.

Can Anxiety Be Treated?

Studies have revealed that the prevalence rate of anxiety disorders is approximately 33% of the adult population. Despite the widespread occurrence of anxiety disorders, only 36.9% of patients receive effective treatment. The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Most patients respond well to anxiety medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. The following medications are commonly used in the treatment of anxiety disorders:

Medication Description and therapeutic effects Main uses
Xanax (alprazolam tablets) Approved for medical use by the FDA in the early eighties, alprazolam is often recommended in the treatment of anxiety symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. This medication has sedative, anxiolytic and muscle relaxing effects.
  • Panic disorder
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
Ativan (lorazepam) Lorazepam is listed on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicines. This benzodiazepine has a quick onset of effects, which include sedation and relief from anxiety. It is a short-acting medication that is rapidly absorbed and eliminated from the body.
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • A sedative for procedural anxiety
Klonopin (clonazepam) Clonazepam is a tranquilliser that takes effect within 1 hour of administration and the effects last between 6 to 12 hours. This medication has anticonvulsant, anti-anxiety, sedative and muscle relaxing effects.
  • Treat and prevent seizures
  • Panic disorder
Valium 10 mg

(diazepam)
Diazepam is also listed on the World Health Organisation's List of Essential Medicines and is one of the most frequently used medications. This medication has anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, sedative and muscle relaxing properties.
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Muscle spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Alcohol withdrawal

Many patients use medication in combination with visiting a psychotherapist, to treat their condition. Often, the therapeutic effect of benzodiazepines helps them fully participate in psychological treatments like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This form of psychotherapy helps people learn to recognise and control the factors that are causing their anxiety symptoms. This, together with sound pharmacological treatment, offers the ideal short and long-term therapy for most patients.

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Updated: 27th January 2021
Review Due: January 2022

Steve

ABOUT STEVE

Fueled with a passion to try and help people less fortunate than himself Steve immersed himself in the medical industry. By researching new and innovative medical advancements and regularly sharing important information on social media Steve intends to make a difference where it matters most, people's health. His wealth of knowledge and keen eye for detail will help keep our readers informed and contribute towards improved health.

Elijah Edwards – Feb 27, 2021
Hello Steve, this article on anxiety has been incredibly helpful. I have been suffering from anxiety on and off for years now and your knowledgeable insight about managing the condition has been a tremendous benefit to me. Elijah Edwards

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