Anxiety disorders, including PTSD, can have a profound effect on quality of life. Not only for the person suffering from these conditions, but for the people who care about them most. But, how do you know if you have PTSD or anxiety? This article from Transformations Care will help you better understand these conditions, learn to spot the signs and know what to do about them.
What is an Anxiety Disorder?
Let’s start by defining anxiety. Anxiety is a feeling of worry or nervousness that is often (but not always) accompanied by some physical symptoms, like racing heartbeat, rapid breathing or sweating. We all experience anxiety in some form or another sometimes. It’s part and parcel of the human condition. For most people though, anxiety isn’t a constant companion. Stressful situations or actual physical danger bring it about, but it doesn’t just appear unexpectedly out of nowhere or seem to linger endlessly.
By now you can probably tell we’re alluding to the differences between ordinary garden variety situational anxiety and a proper anxiety disorder. The key feature that defines a disorder is that the symptoms are chronic and recurring and they are intense enough to affect a person’s quality of life. For example, chronic worrying about routine social encounters that damages friendships or prevents someone from forming new relationships with others. Situational anxiety that pops up over something like a career change or a move to a new state is unlikely to disrupt a person’s life for long, if at all. Whereas an anxiety disorder, like PTSD is a nearly constant companion and seems to affect almost everything in your life to some degree.
How Do I Know If I Have An Anxiety Disorder?
Only a trained medical professional can formally diagnose an anxiety disorder. You should be careful to avoid self-diagnosis or having another non-professional label you with a specific condition. That said, if you know whether or not you have persistent feelings of worry, dread or panic that are serious enough to undermine your quality of life. You can tell if you seem to be much more frightened of certain things than anyone else you know. It’s not important that you diagnose yourself and figure out exactly what type of disorder you have. Anxiety disorders are best addressed with professional support. That’s the only way to ensure you get the accurate diagnosis and effective treatment you deserve. Here are some symptoms of an anxiety order you can self-assess yourself for.
- Often tired or restless
- Hypervigilance or paranoia
- Sense of impending doom
- Heart palpitations, racing heart
- Excessive worry, fear or dread
- Stomach cramps and/or nausea
- Difficulty concentrating, especially due to racing thoughts
- Unwanted annoying or disturbing thoughts that recur
Again, only a medical professional can formally diagnose a mental health disorder. But, If you have two or more of these symptoms regularly, it’s possible you have a disorder and it’s worthwhile getting a professional assessment. The next section defines some of the most common types of anxiety disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) so you can familiarize yourself with their symptoms.
More Common Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
This disorder features excess and persisting worry and anxiety about people, places, things or events. Part of what makes it a disorder is that the anxiety can arise over very ordinary and routine issues, for example a plumber coming to your home to do a repair or plans to go out to the movies with friends. The other part which helps define it (and all anxiety disorders) is the persistence. It’s not something that just happens once or twice. Rather it is a regular behavior that’s part of a person’s life.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a form of anxiety disorder which is the result of trauma. It may manifest after a single experience, like a bad car accident or plane crash. More complex forms of PTSD can arise from multiple experiences across a period of time. For example, being in active combat during war or surviving repeated sexual assaults or psychological abuse events. PT
Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia
Social phobia is similar to GAD, except that all of the feelings of worry and dread are associated with other people. It is characterized by extreme fear or avoidance of social situations. People with this condition are often acutely frightened of being embarrassed or judged by others and are particularly self-conscious.
A panic disorder is characterized by “panic attacks”. These are repeated episodes where feelings of intense anxiety and fear come about and rapidly reach a climax where a person may hyperventilate, shake, sweat or even faint and lose consciousness. It can be very difficult for a person in the midst of a panic attack to see things clearly or listen to and understand instructions or reasoning.
Specific phobias are less common than some of the other anxiety disorders. They are focused on one specific object or location. For example, Coulrophobia (fear of clowns) is a specific phobia. A person with this disorder may not show any unusual signs of anxiety, worry or panic in their everyday life. But when they are exposed to the subject of their phobia (clowns, in this case) they may react with anything from nervousness and unease to a full-blown panic attack.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have An Anxiety Disorder?
If you believe you or someone you care about may have PTSD or another anxiety disorder, your next step should be to seek relief. There’s no reason to continue to be subject to the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. This is particularly true in this day and age when treatment for anxiety disorders has made tremendous strides. Effective treatments for PTSD and other anxiety conditions exist. It does take time and effort, but if you are willing and persistent, the chances you can substantially reduce your symptoms are good. All it takes to begin is a phone call to us here at Transformations Care at (424) 339-0965 we’ll guide you the rest of the way.