ANXIETY, ANXIETY DISORDERS, PANIC ATTACKS, & PTSD

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders. Recently, reports of sustained anxiety have skyrocketed both among children and adults. It has become an epidemic.

Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, and PTSD are anxiety disorders that have additional specific symptoms that you can see below.

FACTS ABOUT ANXIETY DISORDERS

Everyone experiences the dictionary definition of anxiety: “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome” from time to time.

Anxiety becomes a disorder when the amount and/or frequency of the feelings of anxiety (i.e., tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure) interfere with the ability to participate in daily life.

Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health disorder and has become a major public health concern worldwide.

The complexities and challenges of modern life have led many to experience chronic stress that, when left unalleviated or treated, can become an anxiety disorder.

According to recent studies conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, the prevalence of anxiety disorders is the following:

  • 1 in 3 adolescents ages 13-18 
  • Half of young adults ages 18-24
  • 1 in 4 in adults over 18

 

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about 1 in 3 people gets treated.

    Anxiety disorders include the following specific disorders:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Child or adult separation anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Specific phobia
  • Social phobia
  • Agoraphobia
  • Selective mutism (inability to speak in certain situations)
  • Hoarding

Frequently experiencing the following signs of anxiety or anxiety attacks signals an anxiety disorder.

GIVE OR GET HELP!: Helping Someone Experiencing Anxiety/Panic Attack/PTSD especially Grounding Activities.

SIGNS / SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY OR ANXIETY ATTACK

  • Frequent worry and/or apprehension
  • Thinking excessively/obsessively about potential future problems/challenges
  • Talking excessively about worries about the future
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling like things are out of control
  • Negative self-talk
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Feeling unprepared
  • Frequently cancelling plans
  • Difficulty being productive
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Mental exhaustion
  • Working or studying excessively
  • OCD-type behaviors – counting, repeating, creating rigid rituals, obsessive arranging, washing, cleaning, etc.
  • Fear of specific thing, place, situation – e.g., going to school, going to bed, driving on the highway
  • Thumb or pacifier-sucking beyond toddlerhood
  • Sucking/chewing on clothing
  • Self-harm including
    • Cutting
    • Scratching
    • Burning
    • Biting
    • Digging fingernails into skin
    • Hitting/punching self
    • Breaking bones from repeated self-injury
    • Carving messages/symbols into skin
    • Piercing skin
    • Ingesting harmful substances
    • Inserting objects under skin
    • Wearing long sleeeves and pants in hot weather to hide signs of self-harm
  • Picking at skin and hair pulling
  • Appetite disturbances (under- or over-eating)
  • Irritability
  • Excessive crying
  • Hives
  • Nausea, throwing up
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Rapid heart rate or pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Needing to urinate frequently
  • Fidgeting with objects or body parts, like hair twisting or cuticle picking
  • Foot tapping, leg shaking, finger tapping
  • Rocking
  • Trembling or shaking throughout body
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in back and/or neck
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation

Concerned about the signs above? Go here to give or get help!: Helping Someone Experiencing Anxiety/Panic Attack/PTSD especially Grounding Activities.

SIGNS / SYMPTOMS OF A PANIC ATTACK

  • Signs of an anxiety attack (SEE ABOVE) plus
  • Sense of impending doom
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Startling
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment
  • Uncontrollable hysterical crying
  • Uncontrollable hysterical laughing and/or crying
  • Inability to move or moving very slowly
  • Inability to talk or talking very slowly or softly
  • Feeling heavy
  • Breathing rapidly, seeming to hyperventilate, or gasping for air
  • Needing to curl body into a ball, wrap arms around oneself, sit in a corner against the walls, and/or rock back and forth

FACTS ABOUT POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) AND COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (CPTSD)

  • 7-8 people in every 100 will develop PTSD in their lifetime.
  • More women than men have PTSD.
  • PTSD can manifest months or years after experiencing a trauma.
  • Children can have PTSD.
  • Not everyone with PTSD experiences flashbacks.
  • Complex PTSD (or CPTSD) results from a series of traumas or prolonged trauma.

 

Some of the above from “Nine Surprising Facts about PTSD” by Marijke Vroomen Durning, RN

SIGNS / SYMPTOMS OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD) AND COMPLEX POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (CPTSD)

POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD)

  • Signs of ANXIETY and PANIC ATTACKS (SEE ABOVE) plus
  • Having frightening intrusive thoughts or flashbacks, reliving the bad experience
  • Nightmares
  • Hyperarousal and trouble concentrating
  • Panic attacks brought on re-experiencing trauma
  • Irrational anger/lashing out verbally, committing physical violence
  • Avoidance of trauma reminders

COMPLEX PTSD (CPTSD)

  • Signs of PTSD (SEE ABOVE) plus
  • Believing the world is unsafe
  • Loss of trust in oneself and/or others
  • Feeling stuck, unable to make plans or move forward with them
  • Difficulty controlling emotions
  • Experiencing rage, depression, suicidality

Concerned about the signs above? Go here to give or get help!: Helping Someone Experiencing Anxiety/Panic Attack/PTSD.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW FEEL(S) SUICIDAL, go to the emergency room, call a mental health professional who can talk to you NOW, or call the police and say you have a mental health crisis, not a criminal situation!

In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

FIND INTERNATIONAL HOTLINES

Text HOME to The Crisis Textline at 741741. They are available 24/7 in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, and Ireland.

See Also: HELPING SOMEONE WHO IS SUICIDAL