Your heart is racing; it’s pounding so hard you feel like it is coming out of your chest. Your mouth has gone dry but at the same time, sweat has broken out all over your body. Dizziness and nausea are threatening to overwhelm you and you can’t catch your breath.
Do you have an anxiety disorder?
Let’s start by understanding the difference between the anxiety that everyone experiences occasionally, and an anxiety disorder. We all have times when we are nervous or fearful about a particular situation, and we experience any or all of the symptoms described above. Your nervousness can even temporarily interfere with your ability to cope; this is normal. However, if these symptoms create ongoing, significant distress that causes disruption in daily living, you may have an anxiety disorder.
Remember that under different circumstances, the following symptoms can affect any individual for a short period of time. It is only when they are prolonged, severe and disruptive to your life, that you may need to consider if you have an anxiety disorder. In greater or lesser degrees, and depending on the disorder, symptoms include:
• Racing pulse, heart palpitations, possibly even chest pain
• Shortness of breath, panting, dry mouth
• Nausea and/or vomiting
• Trembling, shaking, muscle tension
• Hot flashes and sweating, or chills
• Difficulties with sleep
• Inability to concentrate