Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness and fear, which may cause you to feel tense, sweat, or have a rapid heartbeat. Sometimes it is a normal stress reaction. For example, you may feel anxious before your first day at a job or before taking a test. However, some people have anxiety that is difficult to control and interferes with their daily activities. In this post, we review anxiety, what causes it, treatment, what does anxiety feel like, how to help someone with anxiety, can anxiety cause chest pain, and more.
What is Anxiety?
Those with anxiety may have a feeling of dread or uneasiness and may feel restless, tense, or have a fast heartbeat.
Anxiety can be your body’s normal response to stress.
For example, the first day at a new job, talking in front of large groups of people, or a job interview are examples that may make a person nervous and anxious.
If someone you know feels anxious under certain situations, that can be a normal way for you to cope. Occasional anxiety is normal.
However, there are some with increased anxiety who have an anxiety disorder.
What Is an Anxiety Disorder?
Having occasional anxiety is normal. However, when someone has an anxiety disorder, they have excessive, intense worry about everyday things.
It can be incapacitating and prevent some from doing and enjoying things they used to like.
If not treated, the anxiety disorder can immensely impact your life, performance, and social relationships.
There are different types of anxiety disorders, and with that, different symptoms.
Usually, an anxiety disorder has a combination of these symptoms:
- Physical: You may experience a fast heartbeat, fast breathing, shortness of breath, dizziness, or unexplained pains
- Thoughts: The anxious thoughts make you feel fear, tense or restless, impacting your daily life activities. The thoughts are hard to control, do not go away, and may get worse over time.
- Behavior: Your behavior changes. For example, you may avoid certain places or situations
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Anxiety symptoms vary from one person to another and may differ depending on the type of anxiety you have. Its intensity can also differ among people.
People who don’ t have anxiety often ask What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
Below are some common signs and symptoms of anxiety to give you a better understanding of how it feels.
Physical Symptoms – What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
- An increased heartbeat
- Breathing fast
- Tense muscles
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Dry Mouth
- Trouble sleeping
- Panic attacks – overwhelming intense feeling, sometimes with sweating, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, chest tightness, or extreme fear
Thoughts – What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
- Difficulty focusing. Trouble with concentration or thinking about other things other than what is making you anxious
- Thinking the worst will happen
- Difficulty controlling the anxiety or worry
- Persistent worrying
- Mind racing or going blank
Behavior – What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
- Avoiding things that make you feel anxious
- Seeking reassurance
- Feeling restless, nervous, or tense
- Feeling panic or a sense of impending danger
- Compulsive actions (e.g., locking door or washing hands over and over)
- Irritation or extreme fears about a specific thing can be a sign of phobia (e.g., heights, elevators, spiders)
Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain?
Can anxiety cause chest pain? Yes! Anxiety may cause chest pain.
Chest pain is concerning because it may be caused by an emergency medical issue such as a heart attack or another heart condition.
Anxiety chest pain feels different from one person to the next.
Some people develop chest pain gradually, while others may have a sudden and unanticipated ache.
In any case, anxiety chest pain may feel like:
- Sharp and shooting pain
- Persistent pain in the chest region
- A strange muscle spasm or twitch in the chest area
- Numbness, burning, or a dull pain
- Intense stabbing heaviness
- Chest tightness
Call your local emergency services if you are experiencing chest pain.
Emergency personnel can evaluate you and determine whether you’re pain is related to a heart issue or another reason.
What Causes Anxiety?
The causes behind anxiety disorder are not totally understood.
Some possible causes may include a traumatic life experience, genetics, a medical condition, or a side effect of some medications.
Treatment for Anxiety
Treatment of anxiety disorder includes psychotherapy and medications. Many benefit from a combination of both.
Psychotherapy -Treatment for Anxiety
Psychotherapy (talk therapy) involves talking with a therapist and can be effective in reducing anxiety.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a common and effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders.
It teaches skills to improve your anxiety management so you can slowly do activities you previously avoided.
CBT also includes exposure therapy, where one gradually encounters the triggering event, so you slowly build confidence and reduce anxiety symptoms.
Medications- Treatment for Anxiety
Doctors prescribe several types of medications to help relieve symptoms, depending on the type of anxiety disorder you have and whether you also have other mental or physical health issues.
How to Help Someone with Anxiety – 6 Tips
Although it may be hard to watch someone experience anxiety, these are some things you can do to help.
Here are 6 ways to help someone with anxiety:
1. Recognize the Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is the most common mental health condition in the United States, affecting appropriately 40 million adults.
Those who don’t have anxiety often ask what does anxiety feel like.
Knowing the symptoms of anxiety may help you better understand and recognize when someone has anxiety.
Keep in mind, the symptoms vary from one person to another.
2. Validate their Anxiety, Express Concern, and Try to Understand
Someone’s anxiety may not make sense to you, but it is very real to them.
Try to learn more about their anxiety.
Let them know you notice they are anxious and provide support.
You can ask them about their anxiety, what triggers it, and how you can help them.
3. Ask Them to Seek Professional Help
If the anxiety is severe, interfering with life activities, or causing problems, ask them to seek professional help.
You can encourage them to make an appointment with a mental health professional.
If they resist, remind them it is only an appointment and not a commitment to a long-term treatment plan.
You can also offer to help them explore their options and help them find a provider.
4. Recognize What Helps
In addition to seeking professional medical care, there are some things that people can do to help manage their symptoms. For example:
Some relaxation techniques and activities can help calm anxiety. Some relaxation techniques include breathing exercises, meditation, warm baths, relaxing in dim light, and practicing yoga.
Focus on Positive, Optimistic Thoughts
Negative and pessimistic thoughts can aggravate anxiety. Be in charge of your thoughts and try to change the negative into positive ones.
Take support from friends or family members who can give a hand to support you. Tell them how they can help. In addition, you can talk to a therapist or doctor for professional help.
Exercising regularly not only improves physical health but also has a positive impact on mental health. It produces certain chemicals in the brain that give rise to a feeling of self-appreciation and promotes a positive self-image. Exercise can also help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety.
Get Enough Sleep
It is important to get enough sleep; an average of 8 hours a night is usually recommended. If you have trouble falling asleep, try things like having a routine for bedtime and sticking to a schedule.
5. Find the Triggers
Think about when and where you are when you feel anxious.
Look for patterns and see if you can identify things that trigger your anxiety.
This makes you better prepared, and you can confront your feelings.
6. Focus On The Things You Can Change
Accept that there are some things are out of your control, and focus on those things you can change.
When you are anxious because of a current problem, it may reduce your anxiety if you can take action.
If you cannot control the problem, try changing your attitude to positive, like gratitude.
For example, if you are afraid of losing your job, focus instead on how grateful you are to have one and go to work determined to do your best.
Caregiver self-care is essential to staying physically and emotionally healthy.
Self-care enables you to continue to care for another without burning out from stress and exhaustion.
Remember the basics of being healthy, like good nutrition, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Regular visits to your health care provider, mindfulness, and practicing relaxation techniques can also be very beneficial.
For more information about caregiver self-care, please read our blog post, Self-Care Tips For Caregivers.
Where to Find Help
Caring for a loved one may add stress to your life.
There may be some resources in your community that could help you or your loved one. For example, meal delivery programs, adult day care programs, health insurance consultations, or assistance with rent or utilities.
These programs can reduce some of your stress and benefit your loved one.
For information on how to find community resources, please read our post What Are Community Resources and How to Find Them
Anxiety can be a normal stress response, but people may have an anxiety disorder in some cases. Symptoms of anxiety disorder vary, and there are several treatment options available. The question what does anxiety feel like is a good one because it is essential to understand the symptoms of anxiety. If you wish to help someone with their anxiety, it is good to recognize anxiety, validate it and seek professional help if it is concerning. Caregiving can be stressful, so it is important to practice self-care and utilize your community resources.