Anxiety disorders are mainly characterized by an unnecessary worry, distress and tension.
This may lead to disturbances in concentration, sleep and regular social and work related functioning.
Symptoms vary from person to person and generally develop slowly. The symptoms may be physical or psychological. (1, 2, 3, 4)
The primary symptom is usually related to physical health.
This is common in patients with panic attacks. These patients suffer from sudden bouts of anxiety with chest pain, dizziness, hot flushes or chills, choking, palpitation, nausea, abdominal pain, sense of “impending doom”, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating etc.
Patients with simple phobias may also present to the emergency department with these features.
Psychological symptoms include difficulty in concentrating, tiredness and fatigue, irritability, trouble getting to and staying asleep, dizziness and vertigo and general restlessness and jumpiness.
There is a sensation of dread or “impending doom” and a feeling of being constantly on the “edge”.
Physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include palpitations, headaches, stomach upsets like nausea, diarrhoea, chest tightness, breathlessness, sweating, trembling, muscle weakness etc.
There may be drowsiness, pins and needles sensation, dry mouth, excessive thirst, frequent urinating, painful and missed periods.
Worrying or tension
Constant worry or tension that lasts for at least 6 months.
Social anxiety disorders are characterised by fear and anxiety in social surroundings and avoidance of interactions with people.
The worries may flit from one cause to another like family, relationships, work problems, finances, health or other problems. Most of the times they may be trivial.
Symptoms of OCD
OCD or obsessive compulsive disorders manifest as repeated actions to reduce the anxiety that stems from an obsession, which may be a recurrent or intrusive idea, worry or thought.
For example repeated cleaning or washing due to concerns about contamination.
Symptoms of PTSD
Those with Post-traumatic stress disorders may suffer from sudden panic attacks or constant generalized anxiety.
Edited by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
What is Anxiety?