Anxiety is a typical response when you’re experiencing stressful events throughout your life. For example, if you’re experiencing financial problems, starting a new family, or changing jobs, you may experience some modicum of anxiety. However, if the anxiety symptoms persist or exasperate beyond their trigger and interfere with your everyday life, then you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. Because persistent anxiety can be debilitating, it’s essential to recognize the symptoms and learn how to manage them. In this article, we’ll discuss five signs you may have a general anxiety disorder.
1: Avoidance of Social Situations
If you find yourself avoiding social situations, you may be exhibiting signs of social anxiety. For example, if you feel:
- Fearful or anxious when social events are approaching.
- Worrisome about facing scrutinization or judgment by others.
- Fearful about experiencing humiliation or embarrassment in front of others.
- An intense need to avoid specific social situations as a result of these worries or fears.
It isn’t uncommon for those who are around you to believe you’re a shy or quiet person when you suffer from social anxiety. You may also be mistaken for being snobbish or aloof because you are quiet in social situations, spend little time at them, or avoid them altogether. According to a study published by Arch Gen Psychiatry, social anxiety affects approximately 12% of adults in the United States at some point in their lifetime.
An article published in Science Direct about social anxiety disorder by Professor Murray B. Stein, MD and Professor Dan J. Stein, MD. states, “Social anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder; it has an early age of onset—by age 11 years in about 50% and by age 20 years in about 80% of individuals—and it is a risk factor for subsequent depressive illness and substance abuse.”
2: Sleep Difficulties are Now the Norm
Are you having difficulties falling or staying asleep? You’ll find that, when your mind won’t stop, it’s not easy to get the rest you need. What’s worse, you may also see yourself frequently waking throughout the night or early in the morning even though you didn’t get a full night’s sleep. You begin wondering how people can magically get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep no matter how chaotic their environment.
Where does this leave you when you’re experiencing extreme exhaustion? Harvard researchers explain “Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general U.S. population. Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).”
3: You Find Yourself Worrying about Worrying
Do your peers refer to you as a constant worrier or as a “worry wart?” If you find yourself worrying about everything–even about how much you’re worrying–this is a common sign of general anxiety disorder (GAD). You may experience worrisome feelings about phobias, what the future holds, or other unknowns. Some of these troubling thoughts can become cyclical and lead to more.
Your mind continues—racing endlessly—which can contribute to insomnia. It isn’t uncommon to find yourself in bed, staring at the ceiling, and worrying about things that happened years ago instead of sleeping. You may also be worrying about things that happened that day or may happen tomorrow. The Mayo Clinic indicates that “Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.”
4: You’re Experiencing Other Unexplained Symptoms
Do you feel physical symptoms including restlessness, irritability, muscle pain, or chest pain? Are you experiencing a rapid heart rate, weakness, nausea, digestive issues, sweating, or shaking? You may have gone to your doctor to discuss these symptoms and received a clean bill of health—only to find yourself feeling more frustrated than when you initially made your appointment. These physical symptoms could be signs of anxiety.
Timothy J. Legg, Ph.D., CRNP writes in Medical News Today talks about how “When a person becomes anxious, stressed, or frightened, the brain sends signals to other parts of the body. The signals communicate that the body should prepare to fight or flee.” What this means is, your body could respond to your anxiety by becoming symptomatic. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what’s triggering you and how your body is reacting.
5: Recurring Panic Attacks
No one likes the idea of experiencing a panic attack. However, if you’re suffering recurring panic attacks, this could be a sign that you have a panic disorder which is a form of anxiety. These situations produce overwhelming and intense sensations of debilitating fear. You may experience any combination of symptoms including chest tightness, fear of dying, losing control, nausea, shaking, shortness of breath, or sweating.
If you find yourself experiencing panic attacks, you may find yourself worrying about when the next one might happen. That’s a typical response. You may find yourself avoiding behaviors, people, places, or situations you believe are triggering the attacks. In doing so, you may see that many areas of your life are becoming negatively affected. According to a study published by Arch Gen Psychiatry, approximately 22% of adults in the United States will experience a panic attack in their lifetime. However, only around 3% of those individuals will experience them on a frequent enough basis to meet the panic disorder criteria.
Where Can You Turn for Help?
If you find yourself experiencing the signs of anxiety, you have options and resources available to you. For example, the Pacific Ketamine Institute of Los Angeles, California focuses on Ketamine Infusion Therapy. In doing so, their team of professionals individually treat physical, as well as mental pain.