11 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

8. Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep

Sleep disturbances are strongly associated with anxiety disorders.

Waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling asleep are the two most commonly reported problems.

Some research suggests that having insomnia during childhood may even be linked to developing anxiety later in life.

A study following nearly 1,000 children over 20 years found that having insomnia in childhood was linked to a 60% increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder by age 26.

While insomnia and anxiety are strongly linked, it is unclear whether insomnia contributes to anxiety, if anxiety contributes to insomnia, or both.

What is known is that when the underlying anxiety disorder is treated, insomnia often improves as well.

SUMMARYSleep problems are very common in people with anxiety. Treating the anxiety can usually help improve sleep quality as well.

9. Panic Attacks

One type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder is associated with recurring panic attacks.

Panic attacks produce an intense, overwhelming sensation of fear that can be debilitating.

This extreme fear is typically accompanied by rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea and fear of dying or losing control.

Panic attacks can happen in isolation, but if they occur frequently and unexpectedly, they may be a sign of panic disorder.

An estimated 22% of American adults will experience a panic attack at some point in their lives, but only about 3% experience them frequently enough to meet the criteria for panic disorder.

SUMMARYPanic attacks produce extremely intense feelings of fear, accompanied by unpleasant physical symptoms. Recurring panic attacks may be a sign of panic disorder.

10. Avoiding Social Situations

You may be exhibiting signs of social anxiety disorder if you find yourself:

  • Feeling anxious or fearful about upcoming social situations
  • Worried that you may be judged or scrutinized by others
  • Fearful of being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others
  • Avoiding certain social events because of these fears

Social anxiety disorder is very common, affecting roughly 12% of American adults at some point in their lives.

Social anxiety tends to develop early in life. In fact, about 50% of those who have it are diagnosed by age 11, while 80% are diagnosed by age 20.

People with social anxiety may appear extremely shy and quiet in groups or when meeting new people. While they may not appear distressed on the outside, inside they feel extreme fear and anxiety.

This aloofness can sometimes make people with social anxiety appear snobby or standoffish, but the disorder is associated with low self-esteem, high self-criticism and depression.

SUMMARYFear and avoidance of social situations may be a sign of social anxiety disorder, one of the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders.

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