Anxiety Reaction

Anxiety is the feeling we all get when we think something bad might happen. It is a normal response to stress. It most often causes only a mild reaction. When anxiety is more severe, it can interfere with daily life. In some cases, you may not know what you’re anxious about. Anxiety seems to have both mental and physical triggers. You may have stress from home, family, work, or social relationships. Anxiety tends to run in families. This may mean it’s linked to genes. It may mean that the behavior is learned at home.

During an anxiety reaction, you may feel:

  • Helpless

  • Nervous

  • Depressed

  • Grouchy

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

  • Dry mouth

  • Shakiness

  • Dizziness

  • Weakness

  • Trouble breathing

  • Fast breathing

  • Chest pressure

  • Sweating

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • Tiredness

  • Inability to sleep

  • Sexual problems

Home care

Try to find the triggers of anxiety in your life. They may not be obvious. They may include:

  • Daily hassles of life. This can include traffic jams, missed appointments, or car troubles.

  • Major life changes. This means both good changes, such as a new baby or job promotion. It also means tough life changes, such as loss of a job or loss of loved one.

  • Overload. This means feeling that you have too many responsibilities and can't take care of all of them.

  • Feeling helpless. You may feel you don’t have any control or options. You may feel that your problems can't be solved.

Notice how your body reacts to stress. This will help you take action before the stress triggers anxiety. When you can, make changes to reduce the sources of your stress. But stress in life often can't be avoided. It is important to learn how to manage stress to reduce anxiety. There are many proven methods that will reduce your anxiety. These include:

  • Exercise

  • Good nutrition

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Breathing exercises

  • Visualization

  • Biofeedback

  • Meditation

  • Counseling

  • Medicine

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 getting better with self-help, call your healthcare provider. Or make an appointment with a counselor. You may need short-term counseling or medicine to help you manage anxiety.

Call 911

Call 911 if any of these happen:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Confusion

  • Drowsiness or trouble waking up

  • Fainting

  • 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 you have any of these:

  • Symptoms that get worse

  • Severe headache not eased by rest and mild pain medicine

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