Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Identifying Anxiety Problems

10/31/2006

Question:

For the past three months I have had these episodes where it is hard for me to breath and I have a nervouse/anxious feeling inside. When it first came on it lasted for 4 days and didn`t subside so I went to the doctor. He didn`t really do any test just asked me a few questions. He thought it might be athsma or an anxiety problem. He perscribed me an inhaler which did not work. The problem has continued and I can have 2 to 4 days without any problems then I get it again and it can last 1-2 days now. Sometimes I feel like I just want to sleep so I don`t have to feel it cause it`s so uncompfortable.

I am 23. Have had a lot of family and friend and personal problems that I havent dealt with. I find myself overanalizing things sometimes and worring about things alot. I have trouble sleeping either because I`m thinking all night or I just oversleep due to exaustion. I don`t like my job and am kind of unhappy. I am generally a nervous and shy person aswell. But for some reason this is just starting now and not earlier, when my problems have been going on since I was a child.

I usually get this problem when I`m going to meet people, even with family or my best friend when I`m so comfortable to be around them. Within the last couple of years I`ve been coming out of my shyness and am able to meet and talk with people just fine and enjoy doing it and going out. So if it`s social anxiety why is it happening now when I`m ok being around new people. Sometimes the problem comes on for no reason and I`ll be at home in my room watching t.v so there should be nothing to worry about.

Anyways, the doctor perscribed anxiety medication to see if it would work and I took one tonight and it seemed to really work, but I`m wondering if it`s just in my head and that`s why it worked.

Does this sound like an anxiety problem? Will I have it forever? Because it can be so uncompfortable that I don`t want to go to work and I just want to lye in bed and relax. Is there anything else I can do to help if it`s an anxiety problem

Sorry that this question is so long. Please help

Answer:

It certainly sounds like you could have some anxiety problems.  There are many different kinds of anxiety problems including generalized anxiety (overwhelming sensations of fear and worry), panic attacks (specific periods of time when there is fear, often associated with fast heart rate, sweating, pain, trembling and breathing problems) and specific anxiety situations such as social phobia (the fear, worry and sometimes physical symptoms occur when out in public, in crowded locations or with other people).

Anxiety disorders are felt to be due to chemical imbalances in the brain neurotransmitters.  While everyone is anxious now and again (and rightly so -- you would want to feel fear when a large dog lunges at you and you should worry when people you love take risks) when fear and worry interfere with your ability to lead the kind of life you want, then it is likely an anxiety disorder.

I encourage you to look at some of the weblinks for anxiety.  Then, if you have not yet done so, talk to a mental health professional (a counselor, therapist or psychologist).  These people can work with you to help you decrease your anxiety.  Medications can also be useful -- the most commonly used medications for anxiety disorders are the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (e.g., fluoxetine, sertraline and others).  When combined, counseling (especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications have the most success in treating people with anxiety disorders.

While some people need treatment for anxiety for years (or life) many people need treatment for a relatively short period of time, 6 - 18 months.  As you noted, none of your issues or problems just appeared overnight.  They have been there for years, and will take some time to get better.

Good Luck.

Related Resources:

anxiety disorders of america
NIH NIMH anxiety

For more information:

Go to the Anxiety and Stress Disorders health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati