Signs of Anxiety

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life that most people experience from time to time. But when anxiety begins to interfere with one’s ability to function at work or home, it can cause long-lasting physical and psychological harm. Because of the intensely stressful nature of their work, fire fighters and paramedics may be susceptible to anxiety disorders. Some examples include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

Characterized by intense and persistent fear, nervousness or apprehension, an anxiety disorder can impact nearly every aspect of an IAFF member’s life. Suiting up for work and responding to calls may feel different than it used to. You may find yourself hesitating more, and feeling emotional in critical moments. Even activities outside of work like doing chores, shopping for groceries or spending time with loved ones can become stressful and overwhelming.

While anxiety symptoms manifest differently from person to person, they may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Avoidance of people, places and things that trigger anxious feelings or thoughts
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth or trouble swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive worrying
  • Preoccupation with being criticized by others
  • Excessive sweating
  • Feeling like your mind is “blank”
  • Frequent need to use the bathroom
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Sleep problems (insomnia, nightmares, restless sleep, etc.)
  • Recurring panic attacks

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When left unaddressed, anxiety becomes a vicious cycle. Over time, consistently high levels of anxiety increase the chances of infection, heart disease, depression and even substance abuse problems . In some cases, symptoms of anxiety are signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD ), a serious psychological condition triggered after a traumatic event.

While an anxiety disorder can feel like an inescapable fate, treatment and healing are closer than you think. Professionals at the IAFF Center of Excellence use a combination of evidence-based treatments and medication (when necessary) to help reduce symptoms and improve daily functioning. You or your loved ones don’t have to suffer in silence. Reach out to the IAFF Center of Excellence’s mental health hotline  today to get started.

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