- Fear of dying
- Feeling like you’re losing control
- A sense of detachment
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pains or tightness
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
- Numbness or tingling in your extremities
- Feeling hot or cold
Helping someone who is having a panic attack
It’s understandable to feel frightened if someone you care about experiences a panic attack – especially if it seems to happen without warning. But it can help if you:
- Try to stay calm
- Gently let them know that you think they might be having a panic attack and that you are there for them
- Encourage them to breathe slowly and deeply – it can help to do something structured or repetitive they can focus on, such as counting out loud, or asking them to watch while you gently raise your arm up and down
- Encourage them to stamp their feet on the spot
- Encourage them to sit somewhere quietly where they can focus on their breath until they feel better.
You should never encourage someone to breathe into a paper bag during a panic attack. This isn’t recommended and it might not be safe.
Try to understand
- Find out as much as you can about anxiety. This will help you understand what they are going through. This website will give you personal stories about anxiety through video and blogging, this will be great help to people trying to understand anxiety.
- Ask about their experience. You could ask them how anxiety affects their day-to-day life, and what makes it better or worse. Listening to how they experience things could help you to empathise with how they feel. An estimated 19 million American adults are living with major depression. Here you’ll find in-depth depression information including symptoms and Therapy.
- Persistently sad mood, “feeling blue”
- Feelings of hopelessness and a pessimistic outlook on life
- Guilty feelings, feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of libido
- Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Decreased appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
- Loss of interest in hobbies and other social activities
- Fatigue, decreased energy
- Thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts
- Restlessness, irritability
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
- Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders and chronic pains
From chronic illnesses such as heart disease to pain perception, sex, and sleep — discover how untreated depression can complicate your life.
Learn the dangers of untreated depression and how this may lead to serious and life threatening problems, even suicide.
What does depression have to do with sex? Learn how depression and depression medicines can affect sexual desire and sexual performance.
Find out how depression disturbs sleep and get some effective tips to help your sleep problems.
Get information about serotonin syndrome including causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Why does someone have withdrawal symptoms after taking antidepressants and how can it be overcome? WebMD explains.
Depression and Suicide
Learn more about suicide, including who is at risk, warning signs, and when to call for medical assistance.
Typical agoraphobia symptoms include fear of:
- Leaving home alone
- Crowds or waiting in line
- Enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters, elevators or small stores
- Open spaces, such as parking lots, bridges or malls
- Using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or train
These situations cause anxiety because you fear you won’t be able to escape or find help if you start to feel panicked or have other disabling or embarrassing symptoms.
- Fear or anxiety almost always results from exposure to the situation
- Your fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger of the situation
- You avoid the situation, you need a companion to go with you, or you endure the situation but are extremely distressed
- You experience significant distress or problems with social situations, work or other areas in your life because of the fear, anxiety or avoidance
- Your phobia and avoidance usually lasts six months or longer
Panic disorder and agoraphobia
Some people have a panic disorder in addition to agoraphobia. Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which you experience sudden attacks of extreme fear that reach a peak within a few minutes and trigger intense physical symptoms (panic attacks). You might think that you’re totally losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.
Fear of another panic attack can lead to avoiding similar circumstances or the place where it occurred in an attempt to prevent future panic attacks.
Signs and symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Trouble breathing or a feeling of choking
- Chest pain or pressure
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Feeling shaky, numb or tingling
- Excessive sweating
- Sudden flushing or chills
- Upset stomach or diarrhea
- Feeling a loss of control
- Fear of dying
When to see a doctor
Agoraphobia can severely limit your ability to socialize, work, attend important events and even manage the details of daily life, such as running errands.
Don’t let agoraphobia make your world smaller. Call your doctor if you have signs or symptoms listed above.
Biology — including health conditions and genetics — temperament, environmental stress and learning experiences may all play a role in the development of agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia can begin in childhood, but usually starts in the late teen or early adult years — usually before age 35 — but older adults can also develop it. Women are diagnosed with agoraphobia more often than men are.
Risk factors for agoraphobia include:
- Having panic disorder or other phobias
- Responding to panic attacks with excessive fear and avoidance
- Experiencing stressful life events, such as abuse, the death of a parent or being attacked
- Having an anxious or nervous temperament
- Having a blood relative with agoraphobia
Agoraphobia can greatly limit your life’s activities. If your agoraphobia is severe, you may not even be able to leave your home. Without treatment, some people become housebound for years. You may not be able to visit with family and friends, go to school or work, run errands, or take part in other normal daily activities. You may become dependent on others for help.
Agoraphobia can also lead to or be associated with:
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Other mental health disorders, including other anxiety disorders or personality disorders
There’s no sure way to prevent agoraphobia. However, anxiety tends to increase the more you avoid situations that you fear. If you start to have mild fears about going places that are safe, try to practice going to those places over and over again before your fear becomes overwhelming. If this is too hard to do on your own, ask a family member or friend to go with you, or seek professional help.
If you experience anxiety going places or have panic attacks, get treatment as soon as possible. Get help early to keep symptoms from getting worse.
Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include constant:
- Fear of situations in which you may be judged negatively
- Worry about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
- Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
- Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
- Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling or having a shaky voice
- Avoidance of doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
- Avoidance of situations where you might be the center of attention
- Anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
- Intense fear or anxiety during social situations
- Analysis of your performance and identification of flaws in your interactions after a social situation
- Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation
For children, anxiety about interacting with adults or peers may be shown by crying, having temper tantrums, clinging to parents or refusing to speak in social situations.
Performance type of social anxiety disorder is when you experience intense fear and anxiety during speaking or performing in public but not in other types of more general social situations.
Physical signs and symptoms can sometimes accompany social anxiety disorder and may include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Trouble catching your breath
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Feeling that your mind has gone blank
- Muscle tension
Avoiding common social situations
Common, everyday experiences may be hard to endure when you have social anxiety disorder, including:
- Interacting with unfamiliar people or strangers
- Attending parties or social gatherings
- Going to work or school
- Starting conversations
- Making eye contact
- Entering a room in which people are already seated
- Returning items to a store
- Eating in front of others
- Using a public restroom
Social anxiety disorder symptoms can change over time. They may flare up if you’re facing a lot of changes, stress or demands in your life. Although avoiding situations that produce anxiety may make you feel better in the short term, your anxiety is likely to continue over the long term if you don’t get treatment.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor or a mental health professional if you fear and avoid normal social situations because they cause embarrassment, worry or panic.
Like many other mental health conditions, social anxiety disorder likely arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors. Possible causes include:
- Inherited traits. Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. However, it isn’t entirely clear how much of this may be due to genetics and how much is due to learned behavior.
- Brain structure. A structure in the brain called the amygdala (uh-MIG-duh-luh) may play a role in controlling the fear response. People who have an overactive amygdala may have a heightened fear response, causing increased anxiety in social situations.
- Environment. Social anxiety disorder may be a learned behavior — some people may develop significant anxiety after an unpleasant or embarrassing social situation. Also, there may be an association between social anxiety disorder and parents who either model anxious behavior in social situations or are more controlling or overprotective of their children.
Several factors can increase the risk of developing social anxiety disorder, including:
- Family history. You’re more likely to develop social anxiety disorder if your biological parents or siblings have the condition.
- Negative experiences. Children who experience teasing, bullying, rejection, ridicule or humiliation may be more prone to social anxiety disorder. In addition, other negative events in life, such as family conflict, trauma or abuse, may be associated with this disorder.
- Temperament. Children who are shy, timid, withdrawn or restrained when facing new situations or people may be at greater risk.
- New social or work demands. Social anxiety disorder symptoms typically start in the teenage years, but meeting new people, giving a speech in public or making an important work presentation may trigger symptoms for the first time.
- Having an appearance or condition that draws attention. For example, facial disfigurement, stuttering or tremors due to Parkinson’s disease can increase feelings of self-consciousness and may trigger social anxiety disorder in some people.
Left untreated, social anxiety disorder can control your life. Anxieties can interfere with work, school, relationships or enjoyment of life. This disorder can cause:
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble being assertive
- Negative self-talk
- Hypersensitivity to criticism
- Poor social skills
- Isolation and difficult social relationships
- Low academic and employment achievement
- Substance abuse, such as drinking too much alcohol
- Suicide or suicide attempts
Other anxiety disorders and certain other mental health disorders, particularly major depressive disorder and substance abuse problems, often occur with social anxiety disorder.
There’s no way to predict what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you’re anxious:
- Get help early. Anxiety, like many other mental health conditions, can be harder to treat if you wait.
- Keep a journal. Keeping track of your personal life can help you and your mental health professional identify what’s causing you stress and what seems to help you feel better.
- Set priorities in your life. You can reduce anxiety by carefully managing your time and energy. Make sure that you spend time doing things you enjoy.
- Avoid unhealthy substance use. Alcohol and drug use and even caffeine or nicotine use can cause or worsen anxiety. If you’re addicted to any of these substances, quitting can make you anxious. If you can’t quit on your own, see your health care provider or find a treatment program or support group to help you.
Symptoms of BDD
Symptoms can vary according to which body part (or parts) is targeted, but general symptoms of BDD include:
- thinking about the perceived defect for hours every day
- worrying about their failure to match the ‘physical perfection’ of models and celebrities
- distress about their preoccupation
- constantly asking trusted loved ones for reassurance about their looks, but not believing the answer
- constantly looking at their reflection or taking pains to avoid catching their reflection (for example, throwing away or covering up mirrors)
- constant dieting and overexercising
- grooming to excess – for example, shaving the same patch of skin over and over
- avoiding any situation they feel will call attention to their defect. In extreme cases, this can mean never leaving home
- taking great pains to hide or camouflage the ‘defect’
- squeezing or picking at skin blemishes for hours on end
- wanting dermatological treatment or cosmetic surgery, even when professionals believe the treatment is unnecessary
- repeat cosmetic surgery procedures, especially if the same body part is being ‘improved’ with each procedure
- depression and anxiety, including suicidal thoughts.
Areas of concern with BDD
Common areas of concern for people with BDD include:
- facial skin
- face, including the size or shape of the eyes, nose, ears and lips
- size or shape of virtually any body part, including buttocks, thighs, abdomen, legs, breasts and genitals
- overall size and shape of the body
- symmetry of the body or particular body parts.
What causes BDD
The cause of BDD is unknown. Theories include:
- A person with BDD has a genetic tendency to develop this type of mental illness. The trigger may be the stress of adolescence.
- Particular drugs, such as ecstasy, may trigger onset in susceptible people.
- BDD could be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
- A person with low self-esteem who has impossible standards of perfection judges some part of their body as ugly. Over time, this behaviour becomes more and more compulsive.
- Western society’s narrow standards of beauty may trigger BDD in vulnerable people.