The Emotional Impact of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders affect millions of men and women every year, and most people experience a combination of emotional and physical symptoms depending on the severity of their condition. Anxiety disorders range from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias and social anxiety disorder, but almost all have the same spectrum of emotional symptoms that have significant effects on the person’s well-being and emotional health.

The primary symptoms associated with all anxiety disorders is excessive, even irrational fear or worry about a particular situation, place or thing. However, the following emotional symptoms can also be present, and can occur frequently, or become a part of the person’s personality:

1. Anticipating the worst. Most people suffering from an anxiety disorder are always preparing for the worst, and expect negative things to happen. This can perpetuate a cycle of negative thinking, and may lead to depression, more anxiety and other problems.

2. Agitation or restlessness. Anxiety disorders often leave the person feeling uneasy or uncomfortable in certain situations. In some cases, the sufferer may experience constant restlessness even when trying to relax at home. This is because they have gotten into the habit of maintaining a heightened sense of awareness, and may have become particularly sensitive to even the slightest changes in their environment.

3. Feeling jumpy or tense on a regular basis. Most people who have even the mildest forms of anxiety disorder will feel as though they are always on the edge, or have to “walk on eggshells.” According to the United States National Mental Health Information Center, anxiety disorders can cause people to become “trapped in a pattern of repeated thoughts and behaviors such as counting or hand washing” just so they can reduce their feelings of tension and anxiety.

4. Watching for signs of danger. People who are always on the edge are usually looking for signs of danger, and may become preoccupied with risky situations or events. Most people who have anxiety disorders will always be on the lookout for danger, and be very careful about where they go or what they do.

5. Difficulty concentrating. When most of the day is spent being preoccupied with worry, anxiety and fear, people with anxiety disorders can find it very difficult to stay focused and concentrate. They may have difficulty sitting in one place for long periods of time to perform tasks at a job, complete schoolwork, or finish a project. Symptoms may be recognized as ADD or ADHD, but in many cases, the root cause is an anxiety disorder.

6. Irritability. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders do not get enough rest or sleep, and this can make them especially irritable or aggravated throughout the day. They may become irritated by slight changes in their schedule or routine, and can become overly sensitive to everyday situations. This can be improved with adequate rest and stress relief methods, but these habits will take time to develop.

There are several emotional symptoms of anxiety disorders that can adversely affect the sufferer’s life, and the lives of their friends and family. Recognizing these symptoms is the first step to addressing an anxiety disorder and finding the best course of treatment.