An anxiety disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by feelings of worry or fear. Though this type of mental health disorder can impact us all differently, there are several common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder in the United States. Each year, over 18% of adults suffer from symptoms of anxiety that are worthy of a diagnosis, and statistics are indicating this number has increased over the course of the 2020 pandemic.
With the vast availability of the information available on the internet, finding data to confirm suspicions of anxiety disorder has become an easy task. There are several commons signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders, including excessive worry, fatigue, and more.
If you feel the following symptoms of anxiety disorders and attempt to self-medicate the uncomfortable feelings with alcohol or prescription medication, consider exploring the benefits of treatment for co-occurring disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders
Not all anxiety is bad. In fact, anxiety is a sign that our minds and bodies are prepared to get us out of a dangerous situation.
Anxiety is a mechanism of the flight-or-fight response, which has evolved to help humans to survive. When we are faced with a genuine life-or-death scenario, we want our anxiety to be in full effect.
If the anxiety is operating out of context or persists for an unreasonable amount of time, an anxiety disorder may be at the root. In order for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder to apply, several of the following symptoms must be present.
Here are several common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.
It can be difficult to determine what constitutes an excessive amount of worry. Each of us has our own way of going about things, and we all encounter problems which we have to solve in our own, unique, way.
In general, the amount of worry can be considered excessive if it is interfering with your ability to go about daily life in a normal fashion. If it has you spinning your mental wheels continually, but with no real solution in sight, it might be considered excessive. If the worry persists for six months or more, it might be considered excessive.
Finally, if the amount and duration of the worry are much more severe than the average person would consider putting into a similar scenario, your worry may be considered excessive.
With all of that worry going on, one can imagine that it would be hard to slip off into dreamland and enjoy a blissful sleep.
Insomnia can include anything from not being able to fall asleep in the first place, to not being able to stay asleep throughout the night, to waking up far too early.
Challenges with sleeping can also be a symptom of physical health changes – such as menopause and aging – which makes it important to consider other factors when exploring a diagnosis of anxiety.
Combine constant worry and difficulty sleeping, and you’ve got the prime variables for creating fatigue.
Some may be surprised to learn that mental activity can be even more draining on the body than physical activity. Thinking is such a strenuous activity, that the brain actually uses up calories to do it. While the average person will only rely on a small amount of brain energy to go about the day, the brain of a person with anxiety is in overdrive.
By the time you try to hit the bed at night, you will have expended the energy needed for a mental marathon. Worse still, your brain may refuse to stop running long enough for you to recharge through sleeping.
By now, it is easy to see the way that excessive anxiety creates a score of interwoven problems.
Yet another of those is that of inability to concentrate. Not only is the brain of an anxious person exhausted, but it is also consumed with the focus of the worry. Remembering the flight-or-fight response that is at the root of anxiety, it can be surmised that our minds are not designed to think about anything other than what it perceives as a threat.
For the anxious mind, the threat is never-ending. Instinct tells us that our survival depends on being able to eliminate the threat, and our brains won’t let up on the task until it feels safe.
Thinking about mundane topics such as office work and household chores is not considered to be a survival necessity during times of anxiety.
Being asked to concentrate on something else while your brain is screaming at you that there is danger afoot can be extremely annoying.
Life is rolling on while the anxious person is invisibly consumed, and others are not likely to have any idea about the inner turmoil that is being experienced.
They may be shocked, hurt, or angry at the irritation that the anxious person expresses when being asked to spare some of the drained attention span on trivial issues.
We only have so much energy to give to others in a day, and the anxious person is running on an empty tank.
While it can be easy to consider that anxiety is confined to a mental problem, the fact is that it all ties into our biology.
The body is not designed to be in a constant state of alertness. It is designed to amp up long enough to deal with a problem, and then return to a state of homeostasis.
For a person struggling with persistent anxiety, the body is being asked to stay in a perpetual state of readiness for action. Eventually, the resources devoted to this unreasonable task mean that focus is diverted away from tending to other, vital, biological functions.
Persistent anxiety can eventually result in a myriad of physical problems, including digestive issues, muscle pain, irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and migraines.
Types of Anxiety Disorder
While there are several common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders, an anxiety disorder may impact one woman differently than another woman.
The specific scenarios in which the anxiety is experienced, and the approaches taken in an attempt to relieve the anxiety, will inform your mental health provider as to which anxiety-related diagnosis is most appropriate for your situation.
These factors can range from feeling anxious across all situations for most of the day to only feeling anxious under certain conditions. The severity of symptoms can be described anywhere from mildly distracting to all-consuming.
If you find yourself self-medicating with alcohol or prescription drugs to self-medicate these underlying conditions, consider the benefits of dual-diagnosis treatment. Explore the benefits of holistic recovery and discover the inspiration and guidance needed to help you calm the mind, body, and soul.