Management & Leadership

Anxiety symptoms: The ways in which anxiety can manifest itself

Aug 02, 2018

Anxiety manifests itself in different ways. One thing remains constant however, no one likes to feel anxious.

Key takeaways

  • Anxiety is our body’s natural response to stress.
  • Anxiety manifests itself in many of different ways.
  • A person may be struggling from an anxiety disorder if their anxiety is so severe that it is interfering with their daily lives.
  • Treatment for anxiety depends on the person and the severity of their condition.  

Are you worried about something? Do you feel anxious before writing an exam or going for a job interview? Anxiety is perfectly normal. It is our body’s natural response to stress and everyone experiences some level of anxiety at certain times.

The symptoms of anxiety manifest themselves in different ways. For most people feelings of anxiety ebb and flow depending on the circumstances and, although unpleasant, these feelings do not last or interfere with everyday life. Anxiety presents differently in different people, but there are a few usual suspects that appear as the body goes on high-alert ready for flight or fight, common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid breathing, hyperventilating
  • Racing heart
  • Increased sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Trembling
  • Insomnia
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Panic attacks

Even though we all experience anxiety, for some it is more than just a passing discomfort or worry. For some people anxiety can be long-lasting, continuing for months or even years. It can have crippling effects on one’s ability to accomplish even the simplest of tasks and, as a result, it can interfere with daily life eventually becoming completely debilitating. When this happens the level of anxiety is no longer considered normal and people are often diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Five common anxiety disorders:

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

People with GAD are in a constant state of worry. They experience extreme anxiety over specific triggers such as health, finance and relationships. It is normal at times to worry about these things, but their anxiety is out of proportion when compared to the cause. Often the anxiety results in physical symptoms such as headaches, insomnia and stomach problems.  

2. Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterised by a crippling fear of being judged in social situations. Sufferers often experience intense feelings of shame and worthlessness.

3. Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is characterised by recurrent episodes of extreme anxiety that quickly escalate. These episodes are known as panic attacks and can occur at any time.

4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD often occurs after a person experiences a traumatic event. The severity of the event can vary depending on the person. PTSD is often characterised by an inability to relax, recurring nightmares and flashbacks.

5. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

People diagnosed with OCD experience unwanted or intrusive thoughts that result in extreme anxiety. They adopt repetitive habits or rituals to relieve their anxiety such as washing their hands or counting.   

Sometimes it can be hard to establish when anxiety is a medical problem as opposed to a bad week. It may be time to visit your doctor if you experience any of the following:

  • Worry and anxiety are interfering with your daily life and impacting things like hygiene, work or relationships.
  • Your anxiety is causing you stress and it is becoming difficult to manage.
  • You feel depressed and are using drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Your anxiety is manifesting itself physically for example you are experiencing headaches, stomach problems or insomnia.

Treatment methods vary depending on the person and the severity of their anxiety. Counselling can be incredibly beneficial for those suffering with anxiety. Medication can also be prescribed if necessary. Exercise, a healthy diet, regular sleep, stress management and relaxation techniques should be implemented daily when dealing with or trying to avoid anxiety.

Whether you are suffering from a nervous tummy or a severe anxiety disorder, no level of anxiety is pleasant. Keep mind however that no matter the severity of your anxiety treatment is available to help you manage the symptoms and the underlying causes.  

Training for a career in counselling will provide you with valuable knowledge and techniques for managing stress, so that you can help others do the same. SACAP offers psychology and counselling courses that can be studied both full time and part-time, and there are also distance-learning options available. For more information, enquire now.

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