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Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety Disorders Symptoms

Posted on: May 1st, 2018 by Dr. Angela Bisignano

Rare bouts of anxiety are normal and beneficial when dealing with situations that cause stress, like dealing with a problem, making decisions, and meeting deadlines. This temporary worry helps us pay attention, and drives performance. But when your anxiety is out of proportion to the situation, is intense, and interferes with your life and well-being, it’s time to get help.

Dr. Angela Bisignano is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice in the Palos Verdes Peninsula and south bay cities. She offers compassionate therapy involving biological, psychological, social and spiritual dimensions.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is the apprehension of a future concern that is associated with feelings of being overwhelmed, tense and uncomfortable. Anxiety is intense distress that is persistent and disabling. Anxiety affects you psychologically, physically, and biologically. The most common symptoms are nervousness, sweating, fear, rapid heartbeat, panic, unease, sleep problems, shortness of breath, dry mouth, nausea, tense muscles and dizziness. But anxiety symptoms can also mimic other health problems.

Common types of anxiety disorders         

Anxiety disorders affect almost 30% of adults at some time in their lives. Anxiety is treatable, and treatment will help us to lead productive lives.  The hallmark of an anxiety disorder is worry that is out of proportion to the situation, and impacts the ability to function normally. Emotions like disgust, irritability and shame may also be present.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is worry that gets out of control. It is characterized by persistent, excessive worry and tension that is out of proportion with reality, and interferes with daily life. When there are at least 3 of the following symptoms last the majority of days, for at least 6 months, a diagnosis of GAD is made. Symptoms include restlessness, feelings of being on edge, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and difficulty falling and staying asleep.

Children and teens with GAD often display excessive worry about performance in school or sports, or worry about catastrophes. Adults may focus their worry on job security, performance, health, finances, and children.

  • Panic Disorder is characterized by sudden, repeated panic and overwhelming distress that peaks quickly. Symptoms include feelings of doom or danger, heart palpitations, chest pain, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, smothering, or choking. When you feel helpless and out of control, you may worry about when the next attack will happen, and avoid places where you have had panic attack in the past.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder creates overwhelming worry and self-consciousness during every day social situations. Feelings of being judged, embarrassed or ridiculed pervade your thoughts.

Symptoms include high anxiety when around people, self-consciousness, excessive worry when anticipating being in the company of other people, difficulty making friends, blushing, sweating, trembling, and nausea when with others.

  • Phobias are excessive and persistent fear of an object, situation or activity that is usually not harmful, such as the fear of flying.

What causes anxiety?

We don’t know the cause, but we know that anxiety involves a combination of factors that include environmental, genetic, biological, cumulative stress, trauma or a negative childhood environment.

Factors that can contribute to your risk of developing an anxiety disorder include:

  • Substance abuse
  • Other mental health disorders such as depression
  • Sleep disorders
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of financial resources
  • Being widowed or divorced
  • Stressful childhood and adulthood
  • Family members with anxiety disorders or other mental health disorders
  • Medical conditions that have been linked to anxiety, such as heart disease, thyroid problems, and chronic pain.


Each type of anxiety disorder has specific symptoms and diagnostic criteria. When your anxiety is extreme and interferes with your life, it is time to get immediate help. The first stop is finding a clinical psychologist who is skilled in treating anxiety with compassion, like Dr. Angela Bisignano. She will evaluate your symptoms, their intensity and duration, and whether and how they are interfering with your life. She can help you relieve your distress and learn to live a healthy productive life.


Most anxiety disorders respond well to psychotherapy (talk therapy), anti-anxiety medications, and medications for depression. Anxiety treatment may also include

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and stress management.

If you find yourself worrying all the time, get help. If you are suffering crippling anxiety which has bothered you for too long, get help. Does your anxiety keep you from making the right choices for a fulfilling life? Don’t let your anxiety rule your life.

Psychological counseling will help you eliminate limiting beliefs and behaviors. You can find relief, and learn to lead a more calm, peaceful and fulfilling life. You will learn how to manage your anxiety and what provokes it. Dr. Bisignano can help you alleviate stress and self-defeating behaviors. She will teach you the skills and strategies to change your thinking and find a healthy way to gain control and manage your life. Her goal is to help you live your best life.

When you are struggling with anxiety that is becoming overwhelming, contact Dr. Bisignano at her Palos Verdes office for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation – (424) 206-9055

Complimentary Consult