Most people are anxious or have some feelings of anxiety at one point or another in their life. It’s just a normal response to stress, and stress is just a natural part of life. But how do you know if your feelings have gone from run-of-the-mill stress to actual anxiety?
When symptoms of anxiety become bigger than the experiences or events that triggered them, then you might have an anxiety disorder. This is especially true if those symptoms of anxiety interfere with your life. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but you can manage them with help from a professional. However, it really helps to recognize the symptoms so you know what to talk to your doctor about. Here are some of the most common symptoms you might experience if you have an anxiety disorder.
One of the most common symptoms of an anxiety disorder is worrying too much about things you can’t control. Generally, life’s little worries are taken in stride, and most of the time they can be set aside, allowing the ability to focus on more important things. Similar to stress, minor worries are simply a fact of life. But if you find yourself preoccupied—even obsessed—with seemingly minor issues, it may be a sign of anxiety.
Or perhaps you find yourself worrying over things even when there’s clear evidence that you don’t need to worry about them. Are you concerned with your child’s grades, even though their teacher told you they’re doing really well in class? Irrational worries like this one may also be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
Event-related worries are also a common symptom of anxiety, when the worry attached to the event is much stronger and more intense than the event that triggered it. The old expression is “making mountains our of molehills.” Do you keep worrying about a passing comment a worker made weeks ago? Did you complete a work project that received rave reviews, but you can’t help but wonder if your boss really thinks it’s as good as they say it is? If you find yourself constantly preoccupied with such things, especially when you’re trying to sleep or enjoy time with family, you may have crossed over into anxiety territory.
When you’re anxious, your sympathetic nervous system starts to work harder. This can affect your body in many different ways, including producing an agitated feeling. This happens because your brain thinks it has sensed danger and is preparing your body to react to the threat. Have you been snapping at the kids lately for no good reason? Perhaps you’re simply not as patient behind the wheel or in the office, but you can’t tell why? Situations like these may be indicators of something else going on.
Sweating, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and shaking are also symptoms of anxiety. These symptoms can add to your feelings of agitation, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety-related behavior. You’re agitated, so your pulse quickens, your mouth runs dry and your forehead breaks out with sweat—all of which make you more agitated, further compounding your feelings of anxiety. If this sounds all too familiar, you may want to talk to your doctor about anxiety.
Anxiety-related restlessness is a feeling that has you on-edge for no apparent reason. You might feel an uncomfortable urge to start moving, unable to sit still—this is especially true of children with anxiety disorders. You may find it difficult or even impossible to ever relax. Dinner and chores are done for the night, and you’re sitting in the living room with the family, enjoying a nice evening, but it feels like you can’t enjoy it. Your mind won’t settle—it won’t set aside the busy day you’ve had, and it keeps your body from settling too. You’re still in work mode, even when you don’t want to be.
This also occurs often at night. Lack of sleep due to restlessness is a huge anxiety red flag, and it comes back to that vicious cycle. Poor sleep makes anxiety worse, making it more difficult to get the quality sleep you need. These issues and behaviors compound until you’re a sleep-deprived, anxious wreck. Restlessness may seem like a minor thing, but if you’ve been experiencing it or any other symptoms of anxiety for an extended period of time, it may very well be time to ask your doctor.
Anxiety and fatigue often go hand-in-hand. For some, fatigue occurs after an anxiety attack. For others, it’s a constant symptom that puts a pall over their entire day, every day. The symptoms of anxiety are all highly interconnected—restlessness can lead to lack of sleep, which can lead to fatigue, which makes dealing with mounting symptoms harder and harder as time presses on. It makes life acutely difficult, especially when all the things that used to give you joy no longer do.
It’s important to keep in mind that fatigue can also be a sign of depression or some other medical condition. And since depression and anxiety can also go hand-in-hand, it really pays to be honest with your medical professional to receive the proper diagnosis and get the help you need.
If any of the above sounds familiar to you, never fear—anxiety is an incredibly common experience suffered by more people than you think. And the good news is there are a great many ways to take care of it, from prescribed medications from your doctor to free therapies you can try yourself. Whatever your approach to easing your anxiety, know that you are not alone, and there’s plenty of help out there.
For more information on what you can do about anxiety, including how and when to talk to your doctor, check out the complete Anxiety-Supplements Blog.
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