It’s pretty normal to get nervous on occasion, as anxiety certainly can come when you find yourself in a new situation 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 an average person 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 certain signs that will help you identify 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 (such as psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist) to discuss your anxiety and how you can manage what you are contending with.
- 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 an anxiety disorder called a phobia. If that phobia disrupts your life in ways that you are not satisfied with, it is time to face that phobia and work on overcoming that irrational fear.
- Extreme worry. Excessive worry is a very common characteristic of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). If you are worrying about all sorts of things most days of the week and your life is suffering in one way or another, 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.
- 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 anyone, 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Compulsiveness. One anxiety disorder that not many people are aware of in 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.
These signs are indicators that something is not quite on target with the way you process and manage stress and anxiety. Treatment for such includes a combination psychotherapy (e.g. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT), changes in lifestyle (i.e. exercise, yoga, meditation), and healthy diet. Anti-anxiety medications may also be needed to manage severe cases of anxiety. Many people who struggle with anxiety disorders lead happy, healthy, and relaxed lives due to a variety of treatment options.
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