What is anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health conditions. Estimates for anxiety disorders in people with IBD is 20.5% and 35% report symptoms of anxiety. In patients with active IBD disease, the prevalence of anxiety disorders is up to 75% compared to those in disease remission.

Research also shows that if you have IBD, you may be twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder compared to the general population.

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How Anxiety Differs from Stress

On the surface, it can be difficult to spot the difference between stress and anxiety. Symptoms are similar and may overlap. While stress is a short-term response, anxiety is a sustained disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive worry (worry that is considered out of proportion compared to the potential result).

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Symptoms of anxiety

Cognitive and psychological symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Excessive worry and anxious thoughts (e.g., 'I'm losing control')

  • Being easily fatigued/exhaustion

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Difficulty managing daily tasks/or distress related to these tasks 

  • Irritability and/or restlessness 

  • Fear or panic in situations where most people wouldn’t feel threatened

  • Sudden panic or anxiety attacks 

Behavioural symptoms of anxiety disorders include: 

  • Avoiding feared situations (e.g., eating and drinking)

  • Avoidance of activities that cause sensations similar to those experienced when anxious

Physical symptoms of anxiety disorders include: 

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Muscle tension 

  • Headaches

  • Stomach aches

  • Dizziness

  • Shortness of breath

  • Rapid heartbeat and/or heart pounding 

  • Excessive sweating

  • Chest pain

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When to Seek Help

It common for most people to occasionally experience symptoms of anxiety and do not cause problems. But it may be time to see a health care provider if you feel like your symptoms of anxiety are persistent (occurs most of the time), excessive, and negatively interferes with activities of everyday such as work or study, socializing and managing daily tasks. Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about feelings of anxiety.

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