Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Get in front of an anxiety disorder by learning its effects. Read what causes anxiety disorder, what signs to look out for, and potential co-occurring disorders. Anxiety disorder can affect our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Understanding your symptoms is the first step to successful healing.

Understanding Anxiety Disorder

Learn about anxiety disorder

More than just a case of nerves or jitters, or worry about an upcoming event or experience, anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that typically require professional help to overcome.

Over time, the deep-seated worry that accompanies an anxiety disorder can rob a person of his or her ability to engage in activities that he or she once enjoyed, and can make it difficult to function at home, school, and/or work. This condition can also take a toll on a person’s physical health and can fracture important relationships.

While anxiety can be a debilitating condition, fortunately, there is hope. If you or someone you care about is struggling with this condition, a quality treatment center that offers specialized care for anxiety disorders can make all the difference and can help you learn to manage your symptoms and enjoy a sustained recovery.


Anxiety statistics

Anxiety disorders are prevalent among the American population and comprise some of the most frequently diagnosed mental health conditions in existence. Today, researchers continue to work to better understand anxiety, and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reports the following key findings:

  • Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million people (or 18% of the population) over the age of 18 in the United States
  • Women are 60% more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders at some point during their lifetime
  • It has been estimated that adolescents ages 13-18 have about an 8% prevalence of anxiety disorders, with most symptoms emerging before the age of 6
  • Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for anxiety disorder

Mental health professionals continue to seek greater understanding of anxiety’s causation, and, to date, have identified many factors that they believe may help predict the onset of this painful condition. Some of the most common causes of anxiety disorders include the following:

  • Being born into a family that has a history of anxiety disorders or other mental health conditions
  • Having low levels of GAMA, a neurotransmitter known to reduce excitement in the central nervous system
  • Experiencing sensitivity to stimulants such as caffeine
  • Enduring chronic environmental stress such as financial concerns, the diagnosis of a serious illness, or other traumatic events
  • Having a low distress tolerance
  • Being female (females are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders than males)

Signs & Symptoms

Anxiety disorders can manifest in a variety of ways, and each person will have his or her own experience with this condition. However, if you struggle with anxiety, you will likely experience many of the following signs and symptoms:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Tremors or twitches
  • Frequent urination or diarrhea
  • Inability to be still
  • Ritualistic behaviors such as hand-wringing

Physical symptoms:

  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach problems
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Sweaty hands or feet
  • Cardiac arrhythmia (heart palpitations)
  • Numbness in hands or feet
  • Tingling in hands or feet
  • Feeling weak
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia
  • Shortness of breath

Cognitive symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of panic
  • Irritability
  • Inability to calm down
  • Nightmares
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of uneasiness
  • Mood swings

Psychosocial symptoms:

  • Withdrawing from once pleasurable pastimes
  • Withdrawing from friends and loved ones
  • Challenges fulfilling work, school, or familial obligations


Effects of anxiety disorder

While there are many treatment opportunities to address anxiety disorders, sadly, many people with these conditions never get the help they need to heal. Left untreated, symptoms of anxiety disorders will worsen over time, and may include:

  • Digestive or bowel problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Job loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Crumbling interpersonal relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse

Co-Occurring Disorders

Anxiety disorder and co-occurring disorders

If you struggle with anxiety, you are more likely to also be diagnosed with one of the following co-occurring mental illnesses:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Substance use disorder
  • Body dysmorphic disorder
  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders