For most of us, it's natural to feel anxiety from time to time. But for others, anxiety and panic overshadows every moment of their lives. Here's a simple self-diagnostic checklist to help you determine if you have the signs and symptoms of anxiety attacks or any of the other following social anxiety disorders.
1. Panic Attacks
Panic attacks usually come during extended periods of tension and stress such as a move, change of job, divorce, or the birth of a child. Instead of feeling capable of facing the challenge, you become preoccupied with thoughts of failure. If you experience two or more of these symptoms of anxiety attacks, you may be having panic attacks.
- Episodes of sudden and intense fear that seem to come out of nowhere
- During these episodes you experience heart attack like symptoms (racing heart, chest pain, difficulty breathing, choking sensation, lightheadedness, tingling or numbness, etc. )
- During these episodes you worry about something terrible happening (embarrassing yourself, having a heart attack, dying, etc. )
- You worry about having more panic attacks
2. Generalized Anxiety
Generalized anxiety is characterized by persistent worries about small day-to-day concerns like getting somewhere on time or completing enough projects during the day, and broader issues such as health and illness, work or school performance, money and family. If you worry about these issues and experience two or more of these symptoms of anxiety attacks nearly every day, you may have generalized anxiety.
- Worry about a variety of experiences (work, school, health, family, etc. )
- Difficulty controlling these worries
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep
3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder is marked by repetitive, unproductive behaviors which are done ritualistically. If you are prevented from performing these behaviors, you can become very agitated, anxious or panicky. If you experience two or more of these symptoms of anxiety attacks, you may have obsessive compulsive disorder.
- Recurring thoughts or images (other than normal everyday worries) that are intrusive and make you anxious
- Are occasionally aware that these thoughts or images are unreasonable or excessive
- Desire to stop these thoughts or images, but can't seem to control them
- Engage in repetitive behaviors (like hand washing, ordering, or checking) or mental acts (like praying, counting, or repeating words silently) to find relief from these thoughts or images
4. Social Phobia
Most people naturally get nervous in a social situation. But for others, this fear and anxiety are so great that they go to extremes to avoid any social situations, even those as mundane as eating in a restaurant or using a public restroom. If you are excessively fearful that others will criticize your public behavior and exhibit two or more of these symptoms of anxiety attacks, you may have social phobia.
- Afraid of one or more social or performance situations (speaking up; taking a test; eating, writing or working in public; being the center of attention;asking someone for a date)
- Get excessively anxious or worried if you try to participate in any of these situations
- Try to avoid these situations whenever possible
Please note that this is just a simple breakdown of these complex social anxiety disorders. However, being able recognize the symptoms of anxiety attacks can help you seek out the cure for worry and anxiety that's right for you.
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