Anxiety can manifest itself in numerous ways and for many reasons. Important exams, having to make a speech, or going on a first date with someone can all be sources of nervousness or other feelings commonly associated with anxiety. However, these feelings can also be chronic and not based on specific scenarios; and it could indicate an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure whether you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, this article will discuss the mental and physical symptoms so that you can learn how to tell if you have anxiety, and start managing it today.
The Signs Of Anxiety
People experience anxiety differently. And there are different types of anxiety disorders — some people have generalized anxiety disorder. Others may live with panic disorder. Some people may have difficulty with specific phobias. Despite there being differences between the types, here are some of the most common hallmarks of an anxiety disorder:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, individuals with anxiety disorders often worry excessively or have a sense of dread, usually lasting six months or longer. These anxious feelings can stem from school, the workplace, social interactions, personal relationships, health, or finances, to name a few causes. For those with anxiety, keeping these feelings under control can be challenging, even if they realize that their worries or fears are irrational.
It is very common for anxiety to keep people awake at night, especially the night before an event that is contributing to the fear and tension. Getting a good night’s sleep can feel impossible for some individuals, who find themselves tossing and turning in bed because of anxiety. Sleep is essential for just about every function in the body, including your mental health. In fact, sleep problems can also be a contributor to anxiety and often make things worse. There are many ways for people to improve their sleeping habits, but those with severe anxiety and insomnia can benefit from consulting with a physician who can recommend a sleeping aid.
Even if the individual manages to get to sleep — and an adequate amount of it — someone who experiences anxiety may feel unsatisfied, experience fatigue throughout the day, or become easily tired. Anxiety can be emotionally exhausting and can make getting through the day more cumbersome. When you are tired, your mood can also fluctuate, possibly leading to depression, a condition that is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders.
Having difficulty concentrating is a common symptom of anxiety that can also be considered a side-effect of worry or sleep problems. If you struggle to complete work or school assignments and find yourself blanking out, anxiety may be to blame. Those who have this symptom might also procrastinate, either knowingly or unknowingly. That is, if they aren’t already distracted by anxious thoughts, they might find ways to distract themselves from those feelings and the things that are contributing to their stress.
Anxiety can cause people to feel on edge frequently. Sometimes, those who are lost in thought about something worrisome might feel caught off-guard, or they might become easily angered and will lash out at others when stressed out. Individuals living with anxiety might also find that they lose their patience much quicker than in the past. Unfortunately, this common symptom can be detrimental to a person’s social life and personal relationships.
Some of the most prevalent physical symptoms of anxiety involve the heart. When faced with a situation that induces stress, a person may notice that his or her heart rate goes up or begins to feel irregular. These feelings are very common during panic attacks, and are also often experienced by those with social anxiety disorder. Panic attacks are typically short-lived; but those with a panic disorder will experience them regularly.
An increase in body temperature often comes from one’s heart-rate and blood pressure going up. Therefore, those who have higher heart rates while experiencing anxious feelings may also find that they are feeling more body heat and sweating excessively.
The stress associated with anxiety can cause a person’s limbs to shake uncontrollably, especially the hands. There are different types of tremors, such as the ones that are associated with Parkinson’s Disease; however, the ones that are associated with anxiety are often caused by adrenaline and the fight-or-flight response. Although this feeling is temporary, it is still uncomfortable and can create more fear and anxiety.
Like the changes in heart and temperature, a person’s breathing may also be affected by anxiety. They may feel like they cannot get enough oxygen in their lungs and experience a sensation of tightness or pain in their chest. This is known as dyspnea, and is a symptom of many different medical conditions.
These particular symptoms can be quite severe and paralyzing. A feeling that something bad is about to happen, or is in the process of happening, can sometimes appear out of nowhere. According to the American Psychological Association, these symptoms often pass within a few minutes, and although they are scary, they aren’t inherently dangerous and are sometimes disproportional to the actual events that cause anxiety and panic.
How You Can Tackle Anxiety
Anxiety doesn’t have a single cause, but there is some common ground between the disorders, so treatment plans can be quite similar between patients, typically including a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Medication must be provided from your primary doctor or psychiatrist, who can diagnose you if you believe that you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. Keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to medication for treating anxiety; dosages can vary as well as the type of drug used. Nonetheless, there are some first-line treatments.
Benzodiazepines are a class of fast-acting anxiolytic drugs that can temporarily, yet effectively, provide relief for severe cases of anxiety and may also have the added benefit of treating insomnia. However, these medications can cause dependency issues, and therefore, must always be prescribed and taken carefully under your doctor’s supervision.
A heart medication known as propranolol can also be prescribed to help control many of the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart, high blood pressure, and shaking. It is commonly provided to those who have anxiety related to social situations and performance, such as making a speech or playing music for an audience.
Antidepressants are also commonly prescribed to those with anxiety disorders, as well as OCD and depression. These take time to work, but the reason why antidepressants can be helpful for these conditions is that they can involve the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is believed to be involved in both anxiety and depression.
Counseling & Therapy
Lastly, one of the most effective methods for addressing anxiety is therapy. Therapy is a helpful resource for treating anxiety because it gets to the bottom of why you are feeling anxious in the first place, and from there, you can find solutions. A therapist who is trained in helping individuals with anxiety will give you the skills to manage and cope with anxiety. Many patients who attend therapy can find ways to overcome it entirely.
Finding a therapist that works for you is easier than ever, and if you feel hesitant about attending an in-person counseling session, online ones might be right for you. At BetterHelp, you can receive affordable and convenient access to licensed and professionals who can help guide you through your journey in combating anxiety.
Anxiety affects millions of people around the world, and although everyone has different reasons for feeling worried and stressed out, you are not alone, and support is always available. Hopefully, this article has helped you learn how to tell if you have anxiety, and you will feel encouraged to reach out and find assistance. Regardless if this is all new to you, or if you have struggled with symptoms for years, always keep in mind that anxiety doesn’t need to be a permanent state, and you can begin to overcome it with someone who understands what you are feeling. It’s never too late.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the first signs of anxiety?
Nervousness and worry are normal emotions that help people respond to stressful situations and events. They can happen as a result of many social situations. As you go about your day-to-day activities, the fear of the unknown can cause symptoms associated with anxiety to set in. However, it may be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder, a mental illness, if the symptoms are severe and ongoing.
Although each case of generalized anxiety disorder is unique, there are basic signs and symptoms that a person may exhibit first when dealing with anxiety. Intense fear, heart palpitations, restlessness, muscle tension, and worry may be the first signs of anxiety in persons dealing with anxiety. When any of these happen, it can be a good idea to seek professional help, anxiety medications, support groups, and other treatment options.
How do you feel when you have anxiety?
Most individuals react in a similar way to generalized anxiety disorder, even if the signs and symptoms of each case may vary. When you experience anxiety, you may feel restless, overwhelmed with fear concerning an object or situation, weak or lethargic, excessive sweating, muscle tension, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping.
It is important to seek professional help and get health information if you experience consistent, intense fear for a long period of time. You can also search for the best support groups that can help you manage it best.
Can anxiety cause you to feel symptoms?
Yes, generalized anxiety disorder can cause you to feel certain signs and symptoms depending on the situations that may be causing it. When that happens, you may need to seek professional assistance. Generalized anxiety disorder can cause you to feel different signs and symptoms, which can be physical, behavioral, or psychological. They include panic attacks, muscle tension, racing heart, excessive worry, intense fear, obsessive thinking, hot and cold flushes, and avoidance of triggers.
These are only a few of the symptoms. If you experience any of these signs and symptoms and they affect your daily life, ensure you seek professional help from a doctor or other mental health professional.
What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?
There are different types of anxiety disorders, and each of them have signs and symptoms that are unique to them. However, they share several physical symptoms such as weakness or lethargy, excessive sweating, muscle tension or pain, headache, stomach pain, nausea, shortness of breath, insomnia, and trembling. Physical symptoms, just like treatment options, can vary from one person to another. If you have support groups, talk to them when you notice any symptom, or seek professional help.
What are the causes of stress?
Every person deals with stress in their day-to-day lives and activities. However, the cause of the stress and types of anxiety experienced by each person may differ. Stress can be caused by mental strain or emotional and physical tension. Challenges in life concerning finances, related to workplace, parenting, school, and relationships can cause stress, depending on the individual involved, stress management techniques, and the challenge.
What does stress feel like in the body?
Stress can affect your daily life and quality of life. The symptoms of stress are easy to identify and can be addressed as soon as they are noticed. When stress is persistent and left unchecked, it can result in mental illness and health problems. When experiencing stress, you may feel headaches, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, stomachaches, poor sex drive, muscle tension, chest pain, anxiety, anger, fatigue, and lethargy.
How can I stop stressing?
Once stress symptoms are obvious, it is necessary that you take certain steps to reduce or stop stressing. There are several management techniques that you can use to prevent stress from degenerating into panic disorder based on the types of anxiety that exists. Managing your stress symptoms can benefit your health and quality of life in many ways.
Some stress-management techniques include relaxation techniques (such as yoga), spending time with family and friends, maintaining a sense of humor, eating a healthy diet, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and regular exercise. While there are no specific treatments for stress, when you experience difficulty concentrating for a long time, it is important to seek professional assistance.
Can stress make you physically sick?
Yes, stress can make you physically weak, lead to you staying asleep for long periods of time, and even cause panic attacks. Too much stress can result in high blood pressure, gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes, etc.
If you notice that your stress symptoms are becoming severe or leading to panic attacks, quickly seek professional help.
What happens if anxiety is left untreated?
Unchecked, generalized anxiety disorder can have devastating effects on one’s daily life – work, school, and relationships. It can result in mental illnesses (such as depression), panic attacks, substance abuse, relationship problems, self-isolation, health conditions such as diabetes and heart failure, and give way to suicidal thoughts. For people with social anxiety, it is important to seek professional help when they start having suicidal thoughts or consider acting on them. (If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.)
Although anxiety disorders have no singular cure, they can be managed effectively depending on the type and severity of the disorder.
Does ignoring anxiety make it go away?
Ignoring symptoms of anxiety does not make them go away. Instead, it can worsen the symptoms of anxiety and results in adverse mental health conditions like panic disorder. Treatment of anxiety disorders is necessary to help people living with anxiety to lead normal lives.
What help is available for anxiety?
There are various treatment options available for people living with anxiety disorders, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, anxiety medications, self-help strategies, support groups, and more. Support groups are run by several organizations locally, and can either be physical or virtual.
How long does anxiety last?
Anxiety and panic attacks usually span a period of 5-30 minutes, and can occur frequently and unexpectedly. The period of time may vary depending on the types of anxiety, situation surrounding the attack (social situations), severity, and the individual.