All About Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms, + Types

You have probably heard the term “anxiety” pretty often –being used both in a “lighter” way + of course, with a more serious demeanor, referring to an anxiety disorder. It is so important to know the difference between the two connotations + pay attention to any anxiety symptoms you are experiencing to know if it’s actually a bigger problem.

A little nervousness or anxiety in your life can be a really good thing because it shows that you care about something//someone, helps you get out of your comfort zone, + push yourself to new heights. However, if any symptoms of anxiety [see below!] are affecting your ability to eat, sleep, etc., then you should take a further look into your anxiety + take the first step in working with it. Even though many anxiety disorders share commonalities, they vary greatly in signs + symptoms. Here, we’re covering five different types of anxiety disorders:

#1] Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Experiencing excessive anxiety or worry for months + face several anxiety-related symptoms. This disorder affects roughly 3.1% of the U.S.population + women are twice as likely to be affected [source]! If you experience 3 or more symptoms for a timespan of one month or more. consider seeing a professional [physician or psychologist]. According to the Mayo Clinic, common symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder include:

  • Persistent worrying or anxiety about a number of areas that are out of proportion to the impact of the events
  • Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
  • Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Indecisiveness + fear of making the wrong decision
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”
  • Physical signs + symptoms like — fatigue, trouble sleeping, muscle tension or muscle aches, trembling, nervousness or being easily startled, sweating, nausea, + irritability

#2] Panic Disorder – Experiencing recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear. A panic attack can be experienced differently from person to person, but can include shortness of breath, increased heart-rate, + chest pain. PD affects 2.7% of the U.S. population. Again, this disorder is twice as likely to affect women [source].

#3] Social Anxiety Disorder: Everyone has some level of social “anxiety.” This anxiety allows you to pick up on social cues + sense someone’s mood based on these skills. Social anxiety disorder is often the least talked about anxiety — it’s really hard to understand it + for those who have it, they might not even know. Here are common symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder:

  • Being self-conscious about what people are thinking about you
  • Feeling people are constantly staring at you + judging you
  • Debilitating fear of interacting with strangers [speaking to a waitress // waiter, speaking in class, etc.]
  • Avoiding social situations due to physical symptoms while in them [increased heart-rate, increased sweating, dryness of throat]
  • Having anxiety in anticipation of a feared event

#4] Obsessive Compulsive Disorder [OCD] –  While OCD is often used as a term to jokingly explain someone’s quirky behavior, it is actually a really serious mental health disorder + affects 1% of the population [source]. OCD is best described as engaging in repetitive activities tied to a specific fear, causing you to be debilitated until you complete an action.

#5] Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD] – Those affected by this disorder [3.5% of the population] tend to “re-experience” symptoms [or have flashbacks] triggered by a traumatic event. A mild form of PTSD can also include “second-hand trauma” + you can be consumed by repetitive thoughts of an event that you experienced indirectly.

If you are experiencing any of these signs//symptoms of anxiety disorders, we strongly encourage you to think about seeing a professional or look into your campus resources for students! Your first step might even be to start the conversation with your friends or family. Check out our post here for advice on bringing up this topic with your loved ones!

Remember, we are always here for you + you do not have to go through this alone <3

++ SJ + Ashleigh

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  • Stephanie maurer
    Reply

    beautifully written and so insightful. It was so great to see a post that acknowledges and explains (rather than condemns) misconceptions about anxiety disorders.

    Thank you for a great piece.

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