Anxiety Reaction

Anxiety is the feeling we all get when we think something bad might happen. It is a normal response to stress and normally causes only a mild reaction. When anxiety becomes more severe, it can interfere with daily life. In some cases, you may not even be aware of what you’re anxious about. There may also be a genetic link. Or it may be a learned behavior in the home.

Both psychological and physical triggers cause stress reaction. It's often a response to fear or emotional stress, real or imagined. This stress may come from home, family, work, or social relationships.

During an anxiety reaction, you may feel:

  • Helpless

  • Nervous

  • Depressed

  • Grouchy

Your body may show signs of anxiety in many ways. You may experience:

  • Dry mouth

  • Shakiness

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Trouble breathing

  • Breathing fast (hyperventilating)

  • Chest pressure

  • Sweating

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Tiredness

  • Inability to sleep

  • Sexual problems

Home care

  • Try to find the sources of stress in your life. They may not be obvious. These may include:

    • Daily hassles of life (such as traffic jams, missed appointments, or car troubles)

    • Major life changes, both good (new baby or job promotion) and bad (loss of job or loss of loved one)

    • Overload (feeling that you have too many responsibilities and can't take care of all of them at once)

    • Feeling helpless or feeling that your problems can't be solved

  • Notice how your body reacts to stress. Learn to listen to your body signals. This will help you take action before the stress becomes severe.

  • When you can, do something about the source of your stress. (Avoid hassles, limit the amount of change that happens in your life at one time, and take a break when you feel overloaded).

  • Unfortunately, many stressful situations can't be avoided. It is necessary to learn how to better manage stress. There are many proven methods that will reduce your anxiety. These include simple things such as exercise, good nutrition, and adequate rest. Also, there are certain techniques that are helpful:

    • Relaxation

    • Breathing exercises

    • Visualization

    • Biofeedback

    • Meditation

For more information about this, talk with your healthcare provider. Or check online or at your local library or bookstore. You'll find many books and audiobooks on this subject.

Follow-up care

If you feel your anxiety is not responding to self-help measures, call your healthcare provider or make an appointment with a counselor. You may need short-term psychological counseling or medicine to help you manage stress.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these happen:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Confusion

  • Drowsiness or trouble waking up

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Seizure

  • New chest pain that becomes more severe, lasts longer, or spreads into your shoulder, arm, neck, jaw, or back

When to get medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these happen:

  • Your symptoms get worse

  • Severe headache not eased by rest and mild pain reliever

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