It’s normal to feel concerned and even anxious about the world today. The media bombards you with news of injustice, inflation, and international chaos; you’re right to feel uneasy about those issues. Closer to home, you may have relationship problems, personal financial struggles, or health conditions that fill your mind with worry.
So, how do you know when you’ve crossed over from reasonable concern over legitimate issues to a full-fledged anxiety disorder?
You’re not the only one wondering — about 40 million Americans, nearly one-fifth of the population — suffer from anxiety disorders, making it the country’s most common mental health issue. Leslie S. Gaskill, MD, helps folks in Peachtree Corners and Johns Creek, Georgia, understand the signs of anxiety disorders so they can get the professional help they need.
The many types of anxiety disorders
Before getting into the signs that your anxiety disorder needs attention, Dr. Gaskill wants to explain the multiple types of anxiety disorders. They all share anxiety as a core symptom but stem from different experiences and sources and affect your life differently.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
GAD describes an overarching sense of worry and looming dread about one or many things. You may obsess over upcoming plans, focus on the worst-case scenarios, or perceive certain situations as threatening even when they’re safe.
Social anxiety disorder
You may have social anxiety disorder if you have an extreme fear of social situations like parties, meetings, and family gatherings.
Panic disorder causes a sudden episode of fear that interferes with your ability to function. You may feel shortness of breath, sweating, lightheadedness, and a racing heart. Panic attacks usually last for a few minutes at a time.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
As its name suggests, PTSD stems from a traumatic event you’ve experienced or witnessed. Specific thoughts, sights, smells, or sounds can trigger a PTSD episode of negative thoughts and fears that puts you on edge or debilitates you.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
With OCD, you obsess over a situation to the point where you experience extreme anxiety, compelling you to try to correct or control it. For example, OCD could make you obsess over germs and cause you to sterilize everything, even when they are already clean.
Phobias come in all sorts, from the fear of heights to the fear of leaving your house, the fear of crowds, the fear of confined spaces, and many more. Dr.Gaskill helps you identify your specific phobia and deal with it appropriately.
When to seek help for anxiety
Anxiety means feeling worried, nervous, concerned, or uneasy about something; that emotion alone doesn’t mean you have an anxiety disorder. However, when anxiety creeps into your every thought and disrupts your life, it’s time to seek professional help from Dr. Gaskill. Here are some signs to watch for.
When anxiety affects your relationships
Anxiety disorders can affect your ability to relate to others and engage in rational conversations. Certain people, voices, and faces may trigger extreme fears. You may isolate yourself to avoid social situations, crowds, questions, and other interactions.
When anxiety affects your sleep
It’s no surprise that stress and worry can keep you up at night, but when you have an anxiety disorder, you lose more than a few hours of sleep. Anxiety keeps you in a state of mental arousal that makes it almost impossible to relax and fall asleep. Lack of sleep feeds your anxiety and can even make you dread going to bed, adding to the problem. You may even experience nightmares.
When anxiety affects your physical health
If your anxiety leads to sleep deprivation, your cells can’t renew themselves and restore your body overnight, which could lead to premature aging, fatigue, and a weakened immune system.
However, even if you sleep well, anxiety takes a toll on your body. Some of the most common physical effects of anxiety include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Chest pain
- Trembling or twitching
- Shortness of breath
- Diarrhea or other bowel problems
It’s easy to miss anxiety as the root cause of these symptoms, but Dr. Gaskill can diagnose your anxiety disorder and get you started on the right treatment.
When anxiety disrupts your daily life
When anxiety interferes with your ability to function as you’d like to in your daily life, it’s time to seek help. Here are a few examples of what uncontrolled anxiety disorders can do:
- Go to work
- Attend meetings
- Solve problems
- Run errands
- Maintain a personal relationship
- Keep appointments
If anxiety keeps you from living life on your own terms, call Dr. Gaskill. Through lifestyle changes, counseling, and medication, she can help you manage your anxiety disorder. Learn to manage the things that trigger attacks and minimize anxiety’s impact on your life.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Gaskill, request one online or call us in Peachtree Corners or Johns Creek, Georgia.