Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,450
    Psychologist Douglas Mennin, PhD, talks about the symptoms typical of anxiety disorders, and in particular generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The symptoms of each anxiety disorder vary in different people, but they all provoke extreme fear or worry that interferes with daily life.

    People with GAD experience constant, chronic, and unsubstantiated worry, often about health, family, money, or work. This worrying goes on every day, possibly all day, and people don’t know how to stop it. Some may also experience some physical symptoms such as muscle tension and fatigue, restlessness and irritability, or gastrointestinal discomfort.

    Dr. Douglas Mennin: I'm Dr. Douglas Mennin, psychologist and a professional member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Today we're discussing stress and anxiety, and now I want to talk about the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.

    Although the symptoms of each anxiety disorder vary in different people, they all provoke extreme fear or worry that interferes with your daily life. The symptoms might pass quickly or stay for a long time.

    These are symptoms typical of anxiety disorders: Chronic and unsubstantiated worry; repeated random panic attacks or persistent worry and anticipation of another panic attack; irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, or situation that poses little or no threat or danger; performing uncontrollable repetitive acts, such as washing your hands or checking things over and over; ongoing and recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event in your life that occurred several months or years ago.

    Now let's talk specifically about GAD, which affects 6.8 million adults in the US. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected. People with this disorder experience constant worry. It disrupts social activities and interferes with work, school, or family. People don't know how to stop the worry cycle, which they feel is beyond their control. They may also experience some physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and fatigue, restlessness and irritability, or gastrointestinal discomfort of some kind.

    According to an ADAA national survey, 7 out of 10 people with GAD reported that their chronic anxiety had an impact on their relations with spouses or significant others, and two-thirds said that GAD had a negative effect on their friendships.

    GAD is a serious disorder, but like all anxiety disorders it can be treated in a variety of ways. If you would like to learn more, visit www.adaa.org and check out our other videos on anxiety and anxiety disorders, including diagnosing GAD.