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Anxiety (cont.)

Anxiety Symptoms

Panic disorder: recurrent episodes of panic attacks, worry about having an attack, about what it means, or changing the way one behaves because of the panic attacks for at least a month. Panic attacks are separate and intense periods of fear or feelings of doom developing over a very short time frame-10 minutes-and they're associated with at least four of the following:

  • Palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sense of choking
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or other stomach upset
  • Dizziness
  • A feeling of being detached from the world (derealization)
  • Being unable to think, feeling as if the mind has gone blank
  • Irrational fear of dying
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Chills or hot flashes

Generalized anxiety disorder: excessive, unrealistic, and difficult to control worry over a period of at least six months. It's associated with three of the following:

  • Restlessness
  • Easily tired
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems

Phobic disorders: intense, persistent, and recurring fear of certain objects (such as snakes, spiders, or blood) or situations (such as heights, speaking in front of a group, or public places). These exposures may trigger a panic attack.

Stress disorders: anxiety (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder) caused by the exposure to either death or near-death circumstances such as fires, floods, earthquakes, shootings, automobile accidents, or wars, for example. Other traumatic events may not have had the threat of death or near-death but resulted in the severe injury or threat thereof. Examples of such trauma include victimization through physical or sexual abuse, witnessing the abuse of another or over-exposure to inappropriate material (for example, exposure of children to pornographic images or acts). The traumatic event is re-experienced in thoughts and dreams. Common behaviors include the following:

  • Re-experiencing the trauma, either when awake (flashbacks) or when asleep (nightmares)
  • Avoiding activities, places, or people associated with the triggering event
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Being hypervigilant (you closely watch your surroundings)
  • Feeling a general sense of depression, irritability, doom and gloom with diminished emotions such as loving feelings or aspirations for the future

Symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, palpitations, dizziness, fainting, and weakness generally should not be attributed to anxiety and require evaluation by a doctor.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2014

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