In our day to day lives we often experience stress and anxiety occasionally. It is a normal thing to experience a feeling of anxiousness especially before important events such as a wedding day, an interview, public speech or the first day of school.
How do we tell apart the normal anxious feeling with an anxiety disorder? There is often a time when we can tell the difference. You will realize something is not quite right when your anxiety level grow to a point where it affects your daily life.
While it may not be easy to spot the signs and symptoms of an anxiety because it manifests in a variety of ways ranging from panic attacks to phobias it is not entirely impossible. It is made difficult by the fact that the difference between normal anxiety and medical anxiety is not clear. Before diagnosing anxiety we should first describe and understand it.
Types Of Anxiety
Panic Disorder or Anxiety Attacks
This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. It occurs when a person goes through a panic attack which is a sudden onset of overwhelming fear and anxiousness. Its symptoms include, sweating, shaking, hyperventilating, loss of control, fear of dying a feeling of loss of sanity.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
The people with GAD are termed as chronic worriers. They experience anxiety constantly with no real reason as to why and always feel like something bad is on the verge of happening. Some of the common symptoms of GAD are stomach upsets, fatigue, insomnia and tiredness.
Phobia is defined as an exaggerated and unexplained fear of activities, situations or specific things that might not have any bearing on the person experiencing it. There are a lot of phobias and some of the common ones include fear of heights, enclosed spaces, large water bodies, etc.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorders
People diagnosed with this type of anxiety often have obsessive thoughts and behavior like forgetting to turn off the gas. They also experience uncontrolled and unexplainable compulsions such as washing their hands repeatedly.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This disorder quite often leads to a person being extremely uncomfortable while in normal daily social situations. It comes about when a person is afraid of being ridiculed, embarrassed or judged by others.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
After a person has undergone a traumatizing or terribly frightening situation such as a sexual or physical attack, loss of a loved one, major financial loss etc., they are likely to develop PTSD. Those suffering from it have memories, scary thoughts; dreams etc. of the event and will often be emotionally numb.
Signs of Anxiety Disorder
1. Excessive worrying
We all worry in our day to day lives but how do we know it is excessive or ‘too much’? Well, when it start to weigh you down leaving you feeling fatigued or even when it interferes with you normal routine. “The distinction between an anxiety disorder and just having normal anxiety is whether your emotions are causing a lot of suffering and dysfunction,” says Sally Winston, PsyD, co-director of the Anxiety and Stress Disorder Institute of Maryland in Towson. Often people tend to get hooked to cigarettes because of it.
2. Disrupted Sleeping Pattern
It is not unusual to toss and turn at night especially if there is a big event in the morning. However, if you find yourself lying awake worried about something or nothing in particular or if you find your mind racing and you are unable to calm yourself then it is a sign of anxiety disorder.
3. Unexplained fears
You could experience unexplained irrational fears of certain things, situations or animals which may not pose a risk to you. Sometimes you may not realize you even have these phobias until you actually confronted with it.
4. Tense Muscles
Constant tension in your muscles which may include jaw clenching, flexing muscles throughout your body etc. for people who have been this way for a while it may be difficult for them to realize it is happening.
5. Chronic Indigestion
This is accompanied by nausea and stomach cramps because your gastro-intestinal tract is sensitive to mental stress and vice versa. Mental conditions often show in the digestive tract ending up in loss of appetite, indigestion, bloating, and gas.
This is over nothing in particular. You feel jittery and with butterflies in your stomach. While it is not uncommon to be nervous in the extreme it needs medical attention.
An extreme feeling of constant self-consciousness is a sign. For instance, at social functions you feel you are the center of attention for all the wrong reasons then it’s time to see a doctor.
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.
Reliving a traumatizing or disturbing event- for instance, a violent encounter- or having a particular memory running through your mind all the time then you are suffering from an anxiety disorder and need to seek help immediately before it completely cripples you psychologically.
10. Need for perfection
An obsessive need for perfectionism is classified under the OCD anxiety disorder. It involves a person constantly judging themselves and often falling short of their own standards.
11. Negative thinking
People with anxiety disorder tend to expect negative outcomes to everything. They often have a negative outlook towards the world.
Persistent self-doubt and second-guessing is a common feature of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and OCD. In some cases, the doubt may revolve around a question that’s central to a person’s identity, like “What if I’m gay?” or “Do I love my husband as much as he loves me?” such doubt attacks can turn into an obsession.
If you are experiencing any of the above signs then it is important to seek help before the seriously interfere with your normal functioning ability.