It’s normal to get nervous on occasion, as anxiety certainly can come when you find yourself in a new situation, meeting new people, or having to speak to a crowd. For some individuals, though, anxiety can become a hindrance to everyday tasks and can take over their lives.
Maybe you struggle with anxiety more often than you’d like or the intensity seems to get a bit out of control at times. How can you tell if your anxiety is normal or has crossed over into an anxiety disorder? It’s not always easy to tell, but there are signs that will help you decipher where you are on the scale of anxiety levels.
If you happen to experience some of the following signs, you may want to contact a health professional to discuss your anxiety and how you can manage the anxiety that you are contending with.
1. Irrational or Extreme Fears
If you are extremely fearful of something or a situation, you may be dealing with irrational thoughts, which can lead to a phobia anxiety disorder. When intense fear begins to disrupt your life, it’s time to address it with a professional.
2. Extreme Worry
Excessive worry is a very common characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you are worrying about all sorts of things and your life is suffering because of it, you may be suffering from such. It is normal to worry on occasion about something, but when the emotions get out of whack from excessive worry and it is affecting you and others negatively, it’s time to take an honest look at the cause and check into treatments.
3. Excessive Self-consciousness
Sometimes everyone is self-conscious, but if your world starts revolving around anxiety at the thought of being in public, talking to people, or eating in front of people, you may have a social anxiety disorder. Do you find yourself sweating profusely, getting a stomach ache, feeling nauseated, or stumbling all over your words while being around people? Feeling that eyes are always on you and being super self-conscious makes for a stressful and fearful life, so if this sounds like you, you could have an anxiety disorder.
4. Inability to Sleep
Many people have sleep problems, but if you are tossing and turning every night full of anxious thoughts and concerns racing through your mind, you may have an anxiety disorder.
5. Digestive Issues
Anxiety certainly affects the physical body. In fact, many indigestion problems are directly linked to chronic anxiety and stress. If you have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, an ulcer, or other digestive issues, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
6. Feelings of Panic
Extreme feelings of panic and fear are termed panic attacks. If you find yourself suddenly gripped with paralyzing fear, a feeling of helplessness, intense emptiness feelings, racing heart, chest pain, and breathing problems, chances are you are suffering from a panic attack and require some help in order to manage such.
One anxiety disorder that not many people are aware of is obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The anxious and compulsive thoughts that go along with this can make a person feel like he or she is going crazy. For example, if you have to have every item on your desk in a certain spot and get highly upset when someone moves something- to the point of yelling- you may have an issue with OCD. Or, if you have to repeatedly do things, like polish every door knob in the house or clean every blind before relaxing every day, you may have OCD.
8. Continuous Muscle Tension
Are you always clenching your jaws? Do your muscles hurt because they’re always full of tension? When you have muscle tension much of the time, it can be a sign that you are contending with an anxiety disorder. You may not even notice how you tend to hold your muscles tight the majority of the time. You’ve become accustomed to it.
9. Feeling like you have to be Perfect
Perfectionism is the feeling like you must be perfect in a variety of ways. Do you feel like your world will fall apart if you fail something? Do you just about go out of your mind trying to do the most perfect job with whatever it is you’re trying to do? There are those that struggle with perfectionism as a symptom of OCD, but then there are also others who are not quite on the OCD spectrum, yet have perfectionistic tendencies.
10. Always Questioning Yourself
If you doubt yourself a lot, that can be a sign of high anxiety. You might always be questioning yourself, such as am I doing good enough? Am I able to be the perfect partner for my husband? Granted, at times such questions are very normal, but for someone who is continually doing this and it’s causing a lot of anxiety, it could be an anxiety disorder.
11. Waking up in a Panic
Do you ever wake up in the wee hours of the morning in a panic? You’ve got anxiety coursing through your body? Maybe you’re thinking of 100 things and you’re stressing out. Or maybe you’re remembering something traumatic that happened. Oftentimes, those who struggle with PTSD will wake up suddenly with a great deal of anxiety. If this sounds like you, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
A flashback is a memory of a traumatic event or period of life. If you’re having flashbacks during the day or while you’re sleeping, you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder.
13. You Fear the Future
Do you always find yourself wrapped up in thoughts of a fearful future? Or do you feel like if you’re not in control, your whole world will come crashing down? If you are a chronic worrier about the future, there may be some high anxiety at the core. It’s worth looking at to see if you indeed have an anxiety disorder.
14. Always Being Nervous
If you’re on edge all the time, always feeling nervous, you could be struggling with an anxiety disorder. If you have a tough time catching your breath, and your mind is always racing around , it’s worth taking a look at.
15. You are a Negative Nelly
Do you tend to think the worst in every situation? Perhaps you feel a pain in your stomach and you automatically go to the worst-case scenario. Or you just feel like life is never going to work out for you. If you’re especially prone to negative thoughts, there may be some underlying anxiety.
16. You’re Super Emotional
If you’re having a lot of mood swings, going from very happy to very sad, there could be some high anxiety going on under the surface. When you have high anxiety, it can sometimes make you feel manic, having a lot of energy. Some people will get in this “hyper” mode for a while, and then eventually come down and feel depressed. If you’re super emotional or having mood swings, consult a professional.
These signs are indicators that something is not quite on target with the way you process and manage stress and anxiety. Good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable. Counseling is a wonderful option, and sometimes medication is used to treat those with severe anxiety. Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders lead happy, healthy, and relaxed lives due to a variety of treatment options. If you’re struggling with any of the symptoms above, consider consulting with a mental health professional.