What Anxiety Feels Like
Feelings of anxiety happen to everyone, but if they worsen and last for months, you may need to seek professional medical or psychological care to treat the symptoms. Knowing its symptoms and risk factors is important in treating anxiety and regaining control of your life. Medicine like ketamine may help.
What is anxiety?
“Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.” Once diagnosed, the condition and its symptoms can often be treated with psychotherapy or medicine like ketamine.
What anxiety feels like
You know how stress feels: the sensation of butterflies in your stomach and sweaty palms are two of the best-known signs of feeling stressed. But what precisely does anxiety feel like? You may experience any of the following sensations or emotions:
- Excessive or constant worrying that happens more often than not
- Hyperarousal, including sweating and palpitations
- Restlessness and muscle tension
- Fatigue, headaches, irritability
- Trouble concentrating
- Having trouble sleeping
- Abdominal cramping and nausea
In the short term, you may brush off these symptoms and signs. But you may start to notice that over time anxiety symptoms affect overall quality of life.
Researchers believe that environmental and genetic factors play a role in anxiety, but there are some common ones to look for including:
- Temperamental traits like behavioral inhibition or shyness in childhood
- Early childhood or adult exposure to stressful and bad life or environmental incidents
- A history of other mental illnesses or anxiety in blood relatives
- Some physical health ailment, like heart arrhythmias or thyroid issues, or caffeine or substance abuse, can create or exacerbate anxiety symptoms
Symptoms of anxiety
Everyone reacts to anxiety differently, but decades of research leads to the conclusion that anxiety has common symptoms. Depending on the situation, you may be overwhelmed with:
- nervousness, tension, or restlessness
- sensations of imminent doom, danger, or panic
- a fast heartbeat
- physical problems like stomach pain, bowel trouble, digestive issues, sweating, trembling, or being tired or weak due to sleep problems
- problems concentrating
- constant worry
- the urge to avoid whatever triggers your anxiety
Types of anxiety disorders
- Agoraphobia is a disorder where you fear and purposely avoid people, places or situations which might result in panic and make you feel like you’re helpless, trapped, or humiliated.
- A disorder caused by a medical condition, including symptoms of extreme panic or anxiety that are directly related to a physical health ailment.
- Generalized anxiety disorder features constant and excessive worry and anxiety around activities or events — even ordinary, daily happenings. The worry is disproportionate to the real circumstance, is hard to control and affects how your body feels. It’s often accompanied by depression or other anxiety disorders.
- Panic disorder involves frequent incidents of unexpected feelings of severe anxiety, fear, or terror which reaches peak intensity within minutes. You may have premonitions of imminent doom, shortness of breath, chest discomfort, or heart palpitations. “These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.”
How to diagnose anxiety
Anxiety is often diagnosed by undergoing a physical exam and mental health evaluation. The physical exam looks at your overall health and looks for a medical reason for your condition. A mental evaluation searches for genetic, environmental, psychological, or other causes of anxiety. A diagnosis helps determine possible treatment options.
Many people try self-help for their anxiety, but other treatment options are worth exploring. After a physical or mental health exam, your doctor may recommend psychotherapy, dietary or lifestyle changes, or even medicine to treat the symptoms.
Ketamine to the rescue
If you experience anxiety and the symptoms are frequent and severe, you may be having a serious anxiety disorder. Doctors and therapists now recommend alternative therapy, including ketamine. The medicine was created as a powerful anesthetic in 1962, but doctors and researchers discovered its mind-altering properties had the power to soothe the symptoms of anxiety, chronic pain, and other disorders.
If you’re suffering from anxiety, another mental health disorder, or discomfort from chronic pain, talk with a doctor or mental health specialist about treatment options. New treatments like ketamine may help you control anxiety symptoms but should only be used with supervision through a licensed clinic located near you.