Worrying is a normal part of everyday life, but debilitating anxiety is not. Anxiety can be one of the more difficult mental illnesses for people to seek help for since many believe their issues simply aren’t worthy of a medical opinion.
Many people live with anxiety, but they don’t have to. You wouldn’t try to power through a knife wound, and you would surely seek help if something started going wrong with your body to the point of decreasing your quality of life. The difference between those issues and anxiety is you can quickly know when something is wrong physically – but not always in your head. Let’s learn ten signs of anxiety to help you learn what’s normal and what can be a problem that needs professional help.
1. Overt Worry
Anxiety can cause you to worry about things you know aren’t important or things that no rational person would worry about. Have you ever spent an entire day fretting you’ll get a flat tire on the way home? Have you ever repeatedly rolled a social engagement around your mind so you’ll be mentally prepared? Worrying around the clock about irrational things is not healthy and not normal. It’s perfectly normal to worry about things, but not when the worry slows down your life. When it reaches that point you have bridged the gap from everyday worry to diagnosable anxiety.
2. Trouble Sleeping / Insomnia
Trouble sleeping and full-blown insomnia are hallmarks of anxiety disorders. You simply can’t calm down enough to allow your body to drift to a peaceful sleep. Some patients report trouble falling or staying asleep while others report chronic insomnia. It’s normal to have occasional trouble sleeping but if fretting and other symptoms from anxiety on this list keep you up all night – you need some professional help.
3. Jittery Body
Ever drank too much coffee and felt nervous and jittery? Now imagine feeling that way most of the day and night without any coffee. This is the reality for those suffering from anxiety disorders. Anxiety can cause twitches, tics, and unpleasant sensations of nervous energy.
4. Trouble Concentrating
People suffering from anxiety can have trouble concentrating and focusing. The mind is so preoccupied with hypothetical situations or clouded with worry that daily tasks seem impossible. Anxiety can hurt professional lives and can make schoolwork seem impossible.
Anxiety can bleed over into someone’s personality. Anxiety doesn’t just make worriers, it can also produce agitation and irritability to common situations. No one should snap when asked to perform everyday tasks or participate in normal life events. When everything seems to weigh on someone’s mind even the simplest question or task can be too much. Irritability, grumpiness, and a lowdown world outlook can weigh all parts of your life down and should be addressed.
Agoraphobia is a fancy way of saying afraid of public spaces and interacting with people. Anxiety can be so severe that sufferers don’t want to leave the safety of their home, even for work or important social engagements. Agoraphobia can issue from fear of social interactions, fears of having a panic attack, and other unfound but seemingly insurmountable problems. If you’re avoiding going to parties or joining in work meetings due to your anxiety you’re missing out on life.
7. Tense Body
Someone suffering from anxiety may be rolled up with a tense body and not even know it. Anxiety causes physiological issues including tightened muscles or an unrelaxed body that can cause soreness and long-term damage. If you’re suffering from anxiety right now take stock of your neck and shoulders, are you tensed up? Do you have to physically command your body to relax sometimes? That’s not because you’re dehydrated or don’t stretch often enough – you’re anxious. Unconscious effects like tense muscles are just one of many physical ailments untreated anxiety can cause.
Sometimes all you want is for the anxiety to stop. Unfortunately, many people choose to self-medicate instead of seeking professional help. Self-medicating is seen in many forms including drug use, excessive drinking, over-eating, compulsive shopping and many more. Self-medicating can mask the symptoms of anxiety temporarily, but they tend to come back stronger than before. If you’re not careful self-medicating can become a full-blown addiction or destructive lifestyle. Self-medicating has never permanently healed anxiety and will never take the place of real treatment.
Anxiety can sap both physical and mental strength leaving the sufferer too tired to do anything productive. If you’re up all night worrying about every interaction you had at work and jittery all day as you fight your anxiety, you’re going to end up exhausted. Symptoms associated with anxiety can leave you lethargic but mental health professionals believe anxiety can affect your physiology too. These physiological effects are seen in tense muscles listed above but may show in different forms like continual exhaustion and anxiety.
10. Panic Attacks
Not everyone who suffers from anxiety disorders has panic attacks, but they are a sure sign you have an anxiety disorder. Panic attacks are large-scale anxiety episodes where the sufferer is left virtually powerless to their anxiety. They can occur randomly and without warning. Symptoms of panic attacks include rapid breathing, skyrocketing pulse and blood pressure, blurring of vision, and an overwhelming feeling of dread or imminent death.
If you’re suffering from one or more of these ten signs, you likely have an anxiety or panic disorder. Luckily modern medicine can help treat anxiety of all different forms through counseling, therapy, and medication. Don’t keep throwing your negative feelings to the back of your mind because you think of yourself as just a big worrier – get help. If anxiety is dragging your life down you need to talk to a medical professional today.
Chris Clancy is the in-house Content Manager for JourneyPure’s Digital Marketing team, where he gets to explore a wide variety of substance abuse- and mental health-related topics. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist and researcher, with strong working knowledge of hospital systems, health insurance, content strategy, and public relations. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two kids.