Feeling extreme fear or worry can be a problem, particularly if it interferes with daily life. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
What is normal?
We feel anxious and nervous from time to time. For instance, when speaking in public or when going through financial difficulties. However, for some people, anxiety becomes so frequent and so forceful that it begins to take over their lives. The distinction between an anxiety disorder and just having normal anxiety is whether your emotions are causing a lot of suffering and dysfunction.
How can you tell if your everyday anxiety has crossed the line into a disorder? It’s not easy. Anxiety comes in many different forms. Such as panic attacks, phobia, and social anxiety—and the distinction between an official diagnosis and “normal” anxiety isn’t always clear. Here are signs that you may have an Anxiety Disorder.
The broadest type of Anxiety Disorder is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). The hallmark of GAD is worrying too much about everyday things, large and small. But the question is, how can we measure “too much”?
GAD means having persistent anxious thoughts on most days of the week, for a long time. Also, the anxiety must be so bad that it interferes with daily life. And is accompanied by noticeable symptoms, such as fatigue.
Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep is associated with a wide range of health conditions, both physical and psychological. But, of course, it’s just normal to toss and turn with anticipation on the night before a big speech or job interview.
But if you chronically find yourself lying awake, worried or agitated about specific problems or nothing in particular. It might be a sign of an anxiety disorder. By some estimates, fully half of all people with GAD experience sleep problems. Also, anxiety might be involved if you wake up feeling tired. Or your mind is racing and unable to calm yourself down.
Constant muscle tension—whether it consists of clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or flexing muscles throughout your body—often accompanies anxiety disorders. This symptom can be so persistent and pervasive that people who have lived with it for a long time may stop noticing it after a while.
Regular exercise can help keep muscle tension under control, but the tension may flare up if an injury or other unforeseen event disrupts a person’s workout habits.
Anxiety may start in the mind, but it often manifests itself in the body through physical symptoms, like chronic digestive problems. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a condition characterized by stomachaches, cramping, bloating, gas, constipation, and/or diarrhea, is basically anxiety in the digestive tract.
IBS isn’t always related to anxiety, but the two often occur together and can make each other worse. The gut is very sensitive to psychological stress—and, vice versa, the physical and social discomfort of chronic digestive problems can make a person feel more anxious.
Most people get at least a few butterflies before addressing a group of people or otherwise being in the spotlight. But if the fear is so strong that no amount of coaching or practice will alleviate it. Or if you spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about it. You may have a form of social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia).
People with social anxiety tend to worry for days or weeks leading up to a particular event or situation. And if they do manage to go through with it, they tend to be deeply uncomfortable. And may dwell on it for a long time afterward, wondering how they were judged.
Social anxiety disorder doesn’t always involve speaking to a crowd or being the center of attention. In most cases, anxiety is provoked by everyday situations. Such as making one-on-one conversation at a party. Or eating and drinking in front of even a small number of people.
In these situations, people with social anxiety disorder tend to feel like all eyes are on them, and they often experience blushing, trembling, nausea, profuse sweating, or difficulty talking. These symptoms can be so disruptive that they make it hard to meet new people, maintain relationships, and advance at work or in school.
Panic Attacks can be terrifying: Picture a sudden, gripping feeling of fear and helplessness that can last for several minutes, accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, a pounding or racing heart, tingling or numb hands, sweating, weakness or dizziness, chest pain, stomach pain, and feeling hot or cold.
Not everyone who has a panic attack has an anxiety disorder, but people who experience them repeatedly may be diagnosed with panic disorder. People with panic disorder live in fear about when, where, and why their next attack might happen, and they tend to avoid places where attacks have occurred in the past.
It’s a good thing that nowadays, there are a lot of medication options to choose from in order to deal with Anxiety Disorder. Talk to a professional about how you feel or consult your trusted pharmacies about it.