Anxiety symptoms may show themselves in three ways: cognitive (your thoughts), emotional, and physical. Cognitive symptoms often take the form of worries, ruminations, and "what if?" thinking. Emotionally, you may feel fear and nervousness. Physical symptoms can include heart palpitations, nausea, tightness in the chest or stomach, shakiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, sweating, and difficulty breathing and swallowing. At times, a person may experience only physical symptoms and not even realize that anxiety is causing them.
There are a variety of anxiety disorders: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder (which can come with or without Agoraphobia), Phobias (including Social Phobia), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder, and Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (when significant anxiety is present, but specific criteria are not met for a diagnosis). Dr. Kathleen McHugh can diagnose the type of anxiety you're experiencing, and help you overcome it.
If you have four or more of the physical and emotional symptoms of anxiety within a short time, you may be having a panic attack. If you experience repeated panic attacks, and you worry about havng another attack, what the attacks might mean, and/or your behavior changes because of the attacks, you may have a Panic Disorder.
Social Phobia used to be referred to as "Social Anxiety Disorder." Many people feel nervous about going to a party or speaking in front of an audience. But if you avoid such situations or your fear is so excessive it interferes with your normal routines, your job or your schoolwork, you may have a Social Phobia. This occurs when there is a marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations, such as being exposed to unfamiliar people or scrutiny by others. Those with a Social Phobia often fear doing something embarrassing. They experience significant anxiety, which may include a panic attack.
Medication prescribed for anxiety disorders may include antidepressants or anti-anxiety agents. Many antidepressants reduce symptoms of anxiety as well as depression. They are prescribed and monitored by a physician.