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Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Do You Experience These Symptoms of Anxiety?

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Updated September 19, 2011

Are you concerned that you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder? Anxiety disorders are quite common. In the U.S., about one in every four people will meet the criteria for an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.

Symptoms of anxiety are a normal response to stressful or unfamiliar situations; but, when anxiety lingers or begins to interfere with your daily functioning, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders are psychological, such as:

  • Worry
  • Hypervigilence
  • Excess negativity

Many of the symptoms of anxiety disorders, however, are physical in nature. These symptoms may include:

  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Tremulousness
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleep problems
  • Hot flashes
  • Excessive urination
  • Restlessness

Because many of the symptoms of anxiety are physical, they may mimic a medical condition or substance abuse, making it difficult for your doctor to diagnose you without ruling out these other conditions.

Medical conditions which might present with symptoms similar to anxiety symptoms include heart and lung conditions, hormonal disorders, anemia, delirium, menopause, and gastroesophageal reflux.

Stimulant medications including herbal supplements, caffeine, decongestants, antipsychotics, theophylline, steroids, and anticholinergics may cause anxiety symptoms. In addition, withdrawal from alcohol or illegal drugs may cause these symptoms.

Unfortunately, if an anxiety disorder diagnosis is overlooked as a doctor pursues an alternative diagnosis, the patient may go through several physicians and numerous tests before finally getting a correct diagnosis, contributing to their distress even further. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of anxiety, make sure that your doctor also evaluates you for a possible anxiety disorder.

Sources:

Nobel, John et. al. eds. Texbook of Primary Care Medicine 3rd ed. St. Louis: Mosby, 2001.

Rakel, Robert E., Edward T. Bope. Conn's Current Therapy 6th ed. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier, 2008.

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