How To Tell If You Have Anxiety: 10 Signs And Symptoms
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, feelings of anxiety can also be chronic and not based on specific scenarios; and that could indicate an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure whether you have an anxiety disorder, there are mental, physical, and psychosomatic symptoms you can identify that may provide some clues.
The Signs Of Anxiety
Do I have anxiety? People experience anxiety differently. And there are different types of anxiety disorders — some people have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Others may live with panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Some people may have difficulty with specific phobias. Despite the differences, here are some of the most common hallmarks of an anxiety disorder:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with anxiety disorders often worry excessively or experience the feeling 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 what they are experiencing is disproportionate to the reality of the circumstances.
Difficulties With Sleeping & Restlessness
It is very common for anxiety to keep people awake at night, especially the night before an event that is contributing to 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 virtually every function in the body, including your mental health. 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 intense anxiety and insomnia can benefit from consulting with a physician who can recommend a course of treatment.
Even if the individual sleeps well at night, someone who experiences anxiety may experience fatigue throughout the day or become easily tired. Anxiety can be emotionally exhausting and can make getting through the day more difficult. When you are tired, your mood can also fluctuate, possibly leading to depression, a condition that is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders.
Difficulty concentrating is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder 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 contribute to their stress.
Irritability & Tension
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 lash out at others. Individuals living with anxiety might also find that they lose their patience much easier than in the past. This common symptom can be detrimental to a person’s social life and personal relationships. Tension may also manifest in the body, leading to tense muscles and various aches and pains.
Increased Heart Rate & Palpitations
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 their 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 panic disorder may experience them regularly.
Sweating & Hot Flashes
An increase in body temperature often comes when one’s heart rate and blood pressure increase. Therefore, those who have higher heart rates while experiencing anxious feelings may also find that they are feeling more body heat and sweating excessively.
Trembling & Shaking
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 those associated with Parkinson’s Disease); however, those 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.
Chest Pains & Shortness Of Breath
Shortness of breath or chest pain from anxiety is common to experience particularly during a panic attack. 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.
Feelings Of Terror Or Impending Doom
These 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 spontaneously. These symptoms typically 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.
Coping With Anxiety
Anxiety doesn’t usually have one single cause, but there is some common ground between the disorders, so treatment plans can be quite similar between patients. Treatment for an anxiety disorder typically includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication.
Different types of medication (such as anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers, and antidepressants) may be used to reduce anxiety symptoms. Medication must be provided by 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.
Counseling & Therapy
One of the most effective methods for managing an anxiety disorder is therapy. Therapy is a helpful resource for treating anxiety because it uncovers why you may feel anxious in the first place, and from there, you can find solutions. A therapist trained in helping individuals with anxiety can give you the skills to manage and cope with anxiety. Many patients who attend therapy 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 therapy might be right for you.
Developing Healthy Coping Strategies
In addition to seeking professional treatment, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggest various strategies that can help an individual cope when they are feeling anxious:
Eat regular, nutritious meals
Aim to get daily physical activity
Prioritize getting enough sleep
Engage in calming activities (like journaling or listening to music)
Practice deep breathing or meditation techniques
Limit caffeine (which can worsen anxiety)
Talk about how you are feeling with others (whether a family, friend, or support group)
Anxiety affects millions of people around the world. Although everyone has different reasons for feeling worried and stressed out, you are not alone, and support is always available in the form of therapy.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety can make it difficult to obtain help, however. Even leaving the house can be difficult, which is why online therapy is so popular among people with anxiety disorders. Online therapy allows you to speak to a licensed, accredited mental health professional on your schedule from the comfort of your home.
If you are experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, reaching out to a therapist online with experience helping people struggling with symptoms of anxiety is an essential part of recovery.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you self-diagnose anxiety?
While many people attempt to self-diagnose. if you believe that you may be exhibiting signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD, it is important to reach out to a professional who can provide an official diagnosis and help you to explore treatment options. Treatment for GAD may include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
What causes anxiety?
Researchers believe that anxiety disorders occur due to a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. There are different risk factors for various types of anxiety disorders. However, common factors that may increase one’s likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder include a family history of anxiety disorders or other types of mental illness, certain personality traits, experiencing stressful life events, and/or a traumatic event.
Is anxiety a mental illness?
Common anxiety is a normal part of the human experience and doesn’t necessarily indicate a mental illness. However, chronic anxiety that persists and negatively impacts daily life may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterized by persistent worry that is difficult to control, avoidance of feared situations, and physical symptoms. However, there are different types of anxiety disorders that have their own set of signs and symptoms.
What Are The First Signs Of Anxiety?
Although each case of generalized anxiety disorder is unique, there are basic signs and symptoms that a person may exhibit. 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 may 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, tense muscles, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping.
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 more.
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 result in adverse mental health conditions like panic disorder. Treatment of anxiety disorders is necessary to help people living with anxiety lead normal lives.
How Long Does Anxiety Last?
Anxiety and panic attacks usually span 5-30 minutes and can occur frequently and unexpectedly. The period may vary depending on the types of anxiety, the situation surrounding the attack (social situations), the severity, and the individual.
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