Everyone gets stressed out from time to time, but some of us are overwhelmed with anxiety. 40 million adults in the United States have a diagnosed anxiety disorder – that’s 18.1% of the population! You may be included in that statistic, but you might also be suffering from anxiety without even realizing it. How can you tell? Spot these signs of anxiety before they get out of hand.
There are a few different types of anxiety – phobias, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, and more. Although you can tell when you’re feeling anxious, it’s up to a professional to decide whether or not you have an anxiety disorder that needs treatment. Check in with your primary doctor, a therapist, and/or a psychiatrist if you feel that your anxiety has gotten out of hand.
1 – Heart Palpitations
If stressful events make your heart beat noticeably faster, you likely have a harder time coping with anxiety than you think. Although heart palpitations are common with anxiety, feeling your heart race often should cause you to evaluate your stress levels.
Thankfully, anxiety-induced heart palpitations are generally harmless unless you have heart disease as well. If you don’t suspect that you have an undiagnosed heart problem, your racing heart could be a sign of anxiety.
2 – Not Sleeping Enough
Are you losing sleep? Anxiety may be to blame! When your mind starts racing the moment you get the chance to rest, it becomes harder to fall asleep. That’s why anxiety has been linked to insomnia, the medical term for not getting quality sleep.
Not sleeping well and anxiety create a vicious cycle – anxiety keeps you awake, and then your lack of sleep creates more anxiety. If you suffer from insomnia, undergoing a sleep study may provide you with more answers. In the meantime, utilize natural sleep aids like melatonin and lavender.
3 – Irritability
When we’re stressed out, it’s easier for little things to bug us. After we’ve dealt with a stressful situation for long enough, we may become emotionally exhausted.
Catching irritability quickly can prevent a full-blown anxiety attack later on. This important indicator of an anxiety issue can be curbed with these coping mechanisms from NAMI. If your irritability worsens, be sure to investigate other issues such as depression or even diabetes.
4 – Muscle Tension
Check in with your body – are you tense? Is your jaw clenched? Are your hands forming fists? Muscle tension is a sign of anxiety. If you’re always tense, you might be anxious more frequently than you realize. When you’re feeling tense, try relaxation techniques like yoga and light stretching.
5 – Self-Consciousness
It’s one thing to care about what others think about you. It becomes an issue when being self-conscious consumes you. If your thoughts are filled with self-doubt and fear of how others perceive you, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
It’s indicative of a specific type of anxiety called social anxiety disorder. People may tell you that you look fine or that no one is looking at you, but people with anxiety have a hard time believing it. Address self-consciousness before it eats away at your self-worth!
6 – Trouble Concentrating
It’s hard to concentrate on anything other than your worries when you have an anxiety disorder. Especially if we’re not particularly interested in what we’re doing, our minds might drift off to things that don’t need to be taken care of in that moment.
If stressful thoughts are keeping you unfocused on work, school, or other tasks, you may be dealing with an anxiety disorder. Here are some helpful solutions for those who can’t seem to stay focused at work.
7 – Avoidance
If you’re avoiding certain things, ask yourself why that is. Do you associate unwanted events with those things? Do you fear them? Avoidance can point to a phobia or other anxiety disorder.
There are some things in life that are certainly worth avoiding – no one will diagnose you with an anxiety disorder for avoiding alcohol, for example. If you’re trying to avoid the unavoidable or you’re making your life harder due to avoidance, that’s when it’s time to take action.
Despite what others may tell you, anxiety is real and it can be managed. There’s no shame in needing extra resources to manage stress, and there are plenty of ways to reach out.
If your anxiety is hiding behind symptoms you didn’t associate with stress before now, use your newfound insight to cope with anxiety in a healthy way!