How To Tell If You Have Anxiety: 10 Signs And Symptoms

Updated December 21, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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 and physical symptoms you can identify that may provide some clues. 

Coping With Anxiety Is Possible With Therapy

The Signs Of 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:

  1. Excessive Worrying

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people 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 what they are experiencing is disproportionate to the reality of the circumstances.

  1. 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.

  1. Fatigue

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.

  1. Concentration Issues

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Chest Pains & Shortness Of Breath

Someone with an anxiety disorder may experience chest pain or shortness of breath, 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.

  1. 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 Is Possible With Therapy

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.

Medication Options

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)

Takeaway

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. 

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started