It’s completely normal to feel anxious about getting married, changing jobs, or taking the bar exam. There are people who find these major life events stressful and anxiety-inducing yet still able to function normally. Then there are those who find it difficult to deal with these events and experience crippling anxiety.
Anxiety disorder disrupts a person’s ability to function at work or school, interferes with personal and professional relationships, and affects his or her quality of life. Watch out for these signs and symptoms to know when anxiety is temporary or when it's a debilitating disorder.
A person suffering from anxiety disorder worries excessively and persistently about health, work, school, personal relationships, finances, and a variety of other things. Often, these worries are unrealistic, unfounded, disruptive, and may worsen over time.
A person displaying these traits may be suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, characterized by extreme restlessness, irritability, fatigue, and irregular sleeping patterns. These symptoms, which are often severe, may last as long as six months and may become uncontrollable.
Unexpected intense fear
An anxiety disorder that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly are signs of panic disorder, triggered by a situation or an object of fear and are usually accompanied by worries of future attacks.
Someone who’s having a panic attack may experience heart palpitations, sweat excessively, have a feeling of impending doom, and feel suffocated. He or she may also show significant changes in behavior. One example is repeatedly taking unnecessary medical tests due to an irrational fear of being seriously ill, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Moreover, a person suffering from a panic disorder may actively avoid certain activities (e.g., socializing, going out), fearing these might trigger another attack.
Avoiding social situations
Those with an anxiety disorder may show extreme emotions over participating in social events. He or she may be extremely fearful about attending a social gathering — terrified of being criticized or humiliated in front of everyone — and avoid social events altogether. These are symptomatic of social anxiety disorder, or the intense fear of social situations.
Social anxiety disorder can easily be misconstrued as shyness, but it’s a serious condition and is, in fact, the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder next to specific phobias.
Seek help from a mental health professional
A severe anxiety disorder may be difficult to spot in some patients but not so much in others.
These and similar symptoms that last for six months or more is one of many tell-tale signs that a person is suffering from a severe case of anxiety disorder.
The most common treatment for anxiety disorder is psychotherapy and medications, or a combination of both. In most cases, a doctor or therapist will need to tailor a treatment plan for a patient and determine the best course of therapy as it progresses.
There are several considerations when taking medications for anxiety disorders, including side effects, how long until a certain medication will take effect, the necessary lifestyle changes, and treatment for physical symptoms. These need to be discussed in-depth with a provider who can prescribe psychiatric medications that effectively relieve symptoms.
Anxiety can easily turn into a debilitating condition if symptoms are left untreated. The Meridian Psychiatric Partners providers have helped many patients relieve and manage severe symptoms of anxiety disorder. If you or your loved one needs to consult with a provider in Chicago, Evanston, or Lake Forest, get in touch with us today.