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The Silent Symptoms Of Anxiety & Anxiety Attacks

December 17, 2023

Feeling anxious is a normal emotion, and everyone experiences anxiety throughout their life. Anxiety disorders occur when the degree of anxiety becomes too intense, and sufferers experience frequent episodes of irrational worries or concerns, which eventually interfere with daily activities. Anxiety attacks can happen at any time for no particular reason, or they can have triggers. Many patients report a feeling of losing control or going crazy. Their fears are usually disproportionate with the actual danger. Although irrational, their anxiety is difficult to control nonetheless. General symptoms of anxiety disorders include panic, nervousness, fear, or excessive worrying. Types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorder. Sometimes it can be hard to spot anxiety or anxiety attacks. Get familiar with these silent symptoms now.

Tingling In The Extremities

Tingling in the extremities is a common silent symptom of anxiety and anxiety disorders. The tingling sensation is caused by the body's fight or flight response to stress. The blood rushes to the parts of the body that need extra blood to react quickly. Panic disorder elicits this response frequently, and it usually leaves the patient feeling emotionally drained and physically weak in their extremities. The tingling can occur anywhere on the body, but it's most commonly felt in the extremities because there's less blood being delivered to these areas. This tingling can be caused by a stress response or periods of sustained stress, and will subside as the individual calms themselves and their body recovers. The sensation will eventually disappear and is a normal physiological response by the body when dealing with a perceived threat.

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Intrusive Thoughts

Disturbing thoughts are a prevalent silent symptom of anxiety and anxiety disorders. They tend to pop up at any time of day or night and can be very distressing and difficult to control. Intrusive thoughts can be frightening because of their focus on socially unacceptable things like violence or sexually explicit images. Patients often feel as if they may act on these thoughts and images and wonder if they're abnormal because they have these thoughts. An individual may become preoccupied with these thoughts and experience difficulties with daily functioning.

Many individuals are ashamed or embarrassed to confide in anyone and keep their thoughts to themselves. This often compounds the problem and makes the situation even more frightening, especially for children. Patients become threatened by their thoughts because they are usually so foreign to how they really feel. These fears and attempts to block or dismiss the thoughts often fuels anxiety and can lead to more attacks. The key to dealing with these thoughts is to ignore them and not give them so much power or to seek professional help from a therapist who can provide patients with effective coping methods for their intrusive thoughts.

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Inability To Concentrate

The inability to concentrate can be a sign of anxiety or an anxiety disorder. It's a common symptom of generalized anxiety disorder. Many patients with anxiety struggle to focus and concentrate in school or at work. Studies of children and teens with generalized anxiety disorder found more than two-thirds had difficulty concentrating. Short-term memory can be interrupted by anxiety, especially during periods of high anxiety. Individuals with an anxiety disorder may notice their short-term memory isn't as good as it used to be. They may become more forgetful or have difficulty forming thoughts during an ordinary conversation. Anxiety can interfere with recollections of the simplest things like what the individual was doing a minute ago or where they placed things. Information that was once easily brought forth like phone numbers or names may escape patients. The impairment can occur before, during, or after an anxiety attack, or it may occur for no particular reason. The frequency and degree of short-term memory impairment and concentration issues can change from moment to moment.

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The Throat Closes Up

Anxiety or anxiety disorders can bring about strange sensations, such as the throat closing up. Many individuals with panic disorder experience this sensation during panic attacks. It may feel like their throat is constricting or there's a lump in their throat. Other descriptions of the sensation when the throat closes up include tightness of throat muscles, throat pressure, or a blockage of the airway. It may feel like they have to swallow every so often to clear their throat. Patients should rule out medical issues by visiting a doctor because there are many medical causes for this sensation. Being anxious can cause a tight throat feeling because this state of mind activates the body's stress response. It's a normal reaction to feeling anxious because the body perceives this as a threat. The muscles will tighten during these situations to prepare it for fighting or fleeing. This occurs to a certain degree in many anxious or stressful situations.

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Increase In Irritability

Anxiety is associated with excessive worrying, which often leads to an increase in irritability. Most patients with generalized anxiety disorder report an increase in irritability. This excessive irritability can increase as the levels of anxiety goes up. Almost one hundred percent of participants with generalized anxiety disorder in a recent study reported feeling extremely irritable during their worst episodes of anxiety. Individuals who suffer from anxiety or anxiety disorders are typically hyper-stimulated and can be quick to anger or overreact. The slightest issue can irritate or even infuriate them. The effort and time spent worrying about anxiety and its symptoms can be stressful and very taxing on the mind and body. Elevated stress levels use up even more of the body's resources and lessen its ability to deal with other stressors. This results in less patience and tolerance to deal with everyday situations that wouldn't normally irritate an anxious person.

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Suddenly Going Quiet Or Zoning Out

One common silent sign of an anxiety attack is suddenly going quiet or zoning out. When an individual has a panic or anxiety attack, they may experience psychiatric symptoms called derealization and depersonalization. With depersonalization, a patient feels like they've become detached from their body. It's a dissociative symptom that might make someone feel as though they're observing their body from a distance or like they exist at the bottom of a deep well. With derealization, a patient feels like they've become detached from their immediate surroundings. They might feel disconnected from their current environment or those around them, even if they are close family and friends. When derealization or depersonalization occur, individuals might detach from the current conversation by going quiet. They might zone out and seem less responsive to stimuli around them.

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Leaving Or Abandoning The Task

When an individual is having an anxiety attack, they may respond by leaving or abandoning the task at hand. In a situation where external stimuli are leading to anxiety, it makes sense to leave that situation. Patients may be conscious that they're leaving and use it as a way to decompress. Spending some time away from the anxiety-triggering stimuli can sometimes help them calm down and feel more grounded. Individuals may also abandon tasks when the task feels overwhelming or insurmountable. It might feel easier, in their mind, to leave the task incomplete than to try to face the feelings of anxiety. In addition, leaving a situation can sometimes be related to dissociation. Patients might get up and leave without warning while also seeming detached and adrift.

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Getting Up And Pacing

Getting up and pacing is another harder-to-spot sign of an anxiety attack. Even in situations where the anxiety hasn't escalated to full-blown panic, experts do believe pacing can be a sign an individual is overwhelmed. Some psychologists believe pacing is a way for patients to tell themselves about an internal emotion, or use it as a calming distraction. In its most basic form, pacing can help release discomfort and tension in the muscles. Anxiety attacks can sometimes manifest physically. Not only can they cause nausea, irregular heart rates, and difficulty breathing, but they can also make the body's muscles feel tenser. During an anxiety attack, patients might have trouble sitting still.

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Repetitive Movements And Activities

An individual having an anxiety attack might engage in repetitive movements and activities. This symptom is generally referred to as psychomotor agitation. It causes a feeling of restlessness in the body that leads patients to make movements without intending to. Though this symptom is most commonly found in bipolar disorder patients, it can also affect others experiencing mental tension and anxiety. Individuals with psychomotor agitation might wring their hands, pace, tap their feet and fingers, fidget, or move objects for no discernible reason. They might also talk quickly and start and stop tasks with unusual abruptness. Repetitive movements aren't necessarily a cause for concern on their own, as many individuals engage in them out of habit. However, when the behaviors seem purposeless, uncontrollable, frantic, or frustrated, they can be a sign of an anxiety attack.

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