Common Anxiety Symptoms and Experiences
- Feeling anxious or nervous when it doesn’t make sense? Have butterflies in your stomach?
- Does this anxiety get in the way of living life to the fullest?
- Do you avoid social situations because you’re not sure how to act?
- Have you passed over professional opportunities because of fear of the unknown?
- Do you get lost in thoughts of “what if . . . ?”
Other common experiences of anxiety include: dry mouth, pounding heart, shortness of breath, a tight throat, especially right before, or even during, an important presentation, interview, or date.
Almost constant worry in the back of your mind about any number of seemingly minor issues?
Perhaps you know the material of a test well, but your mind goes blank when the test is handed out? Or you’ve rehearsed for hours and hours, your hands and ears know the notes; then you step on stage and your hands tremble and mind goes blank.
Whether it’s a big presentation to your boss or finally asking the cute guy/lady in the produce aisle out, anxiety can be an overwhelming experience. But it does not have to stop us from succeeding. Read below about types of anxiety.
It’s not butterflies, it’s BATS in my stomach!
Anxiety can take on many forms. Getting started may itself begin to release some anxiety; of course, before coming in for a session, you may feel the anxiety creeping back in–this is normal, and I can help you learn to calm your own nerves so that any anxiety that does arise will feel more manageable.
Asking for help with anxiety or nervousness is difficult for some as it involves talking to a new person about a difficult, sometimes embarrassing experience. Counseling for anxiety creates a safe place where you are not judged and are free to explore techniques for managing anxiety that work for you.
Anxiety can range from relatively common fears and worries about failure, rejection, or pain, to more intellectual concerns about existential and spiritual beliefs.
Sometimes related to performance anxiety. A persistent feeling of being judged or watched by others, especially in social, romantic or professional situations. This anxiety often causes a person to withdraw from others (as a wallflower at a party, or by just not going to the party at all in order to avoid this feeling). People suffering from social anxiety often express a difficulty in grasping social norms in the moment. . . that they understand how to have a conversation in theory, but when faced with a new person to talk to, the understanding seems to vanish. Please understand, a person who is shy or introverted (shy and introverted are NOT the same though) may not suffer from social anxiety.
Sometimes related to social anxiety. Most of us can remember the pangs of anxiety just before a major exam in high school or college; perhaps the nervousness before a theater production or band performance. Performance anxiety is more than just the normal butterflies before a production. Like social anxiety, a person may very well understand that they know the material, but the idea of performing in front of others becomes overwhelming, sometimes to the point of nausea or a full-blown panic attack.
Anxiety relating to the meaning of life and death, etc. Sometimes people will wonder what happens after death. . . is there an afterlife? What if there’s not? If not, how will I know? What about reincarnation? Do I believe in that? How do I know that my religion or lack thereof is correct; and what if I’m wrong?
These are all very common questions, some of which don’t have clear-cut answers. Most existential anxiety is an exercise in being at peace with not knowing everything. It involves letting go of control.
This relates to concerns about being able to meet one’s basic needs, and/or the basic needs of their family. In our society, our basic needs (food, clothing, and shelter) are directly tied to our finances . . . if we are concerned about our money situation, it is likely because we are not sure where we are going to get rent from, or groceries, etc. When this type of anxiety manifests, it often keeps people on edge during the day, and awake at night.
(in the extreme, where there is no actual physical problem, this may be referred to as Hypochondriasis) – When concerns about one’s health become overwhelming due to actual physical conditions, or if one becomes consumed with anxiety about the possibility of declining health (i.e., finding out that you have worked for 15 years in an office with asbestos (a cancer-causing material)). Here’s an example of how health anxiety can feed upon itself and make itself worse:
A man goes to the doctor to get his high blood pressure checked. . . the doctor comes into the room and tells the man that his blood pressure is still quite high . . . to this news, the man begins to talk about how he is certain that he will have a heart attack within the year, then begins to sweat, pace nervously, etc. All of this serves only to increase the anxiety, and his blood pressure, even further.
It should be easy to see how both stress and anxiety have physical manifestations that can feed back into themselves if not addressed.
Learn more about Counseling in Austin.
Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan is a Gottman-trained Couples Counselor, and in 1998 received training by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.