Anxiety is part of life. Most of us have times or things we worry about once in a while. For anxiety to be considered a disorder, it must take more of your time than you would want and cause you trouble throughout your day. Look at the symptoms under generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and if you need help, check with your clinician to see if a consult with a Behavioral Health Consultant is right for you.

Panic Disorder

This causes extreme fear in people who have this. They experience physical symptoms that cause them to feel like they are having a heart attack, can’t catch their breath, or are going to die.

  • Heart pounding, racing heartbeat
  • Sweating, trembling, shaking
  • Shortness of breath or feeling smothered or choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or tummy discomfort
  • Feeling lightheaded, faint, or dizzy
  • Chilled or hot sensation
  • Numbness or tingling in hands/feet
  • Feelings of unreality or not like yourself
  • Fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Fear of dying—heart attack or other serious harm related to symptoms

This disorder often happens at places or events. The patient will then start avoiding it due to thinking its related to that place or event. Often people will go to the Emergency Room with these symptoms, no heart condition is found, and are given a sedative to help calm them. They often do not believe it is anxiety until it occurs again, usually in a different place. Anxiety is a powerful fear reaction that can cause fight-or-flight responses in our body. The problem is that it sometimes happens without being in a life-or-death situation and it confuses our systems which are trying to respond as if it is. This is a common experience and can be managed with lifestyle changes and possibly medication to help calm the symptoms. Ignoring it does not make it go away, so often people suffer when help is available. Talk to your clinician about what options would be best for you.


Fear of situations that eventually can cause people to avoid all outdoor or social situations in life. A person can become so worried about being anywhere they will stay in their house and never risk going out. This is due to fears of something outside of the home happening to them that will be cause them difficulty when out of their “safe” setting (home).

Anxiety about two or more of the situations below:

  • Using public transport—buses, cabs
  • Being in open spaces—malls, parking lots, Costco
  • Being in enclosed spaces—elevators, theaters, stores, Walmart; Standing in a line or crowd, away from home and alone
  • Fear of being unable to escape an event or place, fear of being helpless or where embarrassing symptoms might happen— Example: falling, losing bladder control, throwing up
  • Fear of being in these situations which cause the patient to avoid all of them unless with someone else
  • Fear of any of the above causes the patient to experience a panic attack and these symptoms last for more than 6 months

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Excessive worry occurring for most days of the week for 6 months. This worry can be about many events or areas of life that the person finds difficult to control or “turn off.”

These symptoms go along with that worry:

  • Fidgety or feeling keyed up
  • Being easily tired
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind goes blank
  • Feeling irritated
  • Tight muscles
  • Sleep disturbance—can’t stay asleep or fall asleep, or unsatisfying sleep

This worry causes a person significant distress or damage in their life.