As we start a new month and wind down to a new year (only 4 months left), isn’t it time to do a quick check on yours mental wellness? The fall-out from the pandemic has taken its toll on many, not to mention so many adverse events people are living through, i.e. fires, hurricanes, financial concerns, a voting year, school is back – I could go on but stress and anxiety are still prevalent.
Change is a major cause of anxiety, which is an automatic response that occurs in the body. Anxiety is worry about the future and what will happen. If not managed, it can spiral out of control, leading to a host of emotional and physical problems.
Feeling anxious every once in a while is common but having an anxiety disorder are two very different things – when you are continually in an anxiety state, without it being managed, can lead to an anxiety disorder.
While there are different types of anxiety disorders (i.e. situational anxiety, social anxiety, etc.), a common thread between them all is that it interferes with your daily life and can really cause havoc if left unnoticed or untreated.
Here are four signs that may signal you are dealing with an anxiety disorder:
Your Anxious Thoughts Don’t Go Away
When you have an anxiety disorder, you often become incredibly anxious in situations where others might only get a little anxious, like during family or social gatherings. This anxiety also tends to last longer and is more persistent. When your anxious thoughts start to impact your daily life, that’s when it becomes an issue.
It can seem that no matter how hard you try to avoid anxious thoughts or worry, they seem stronger which increases any anxiety already felt. The more you push away, the stronger they come back. It can seem like you’re on the hamster wheel you can’t get off of.
Your Anxiety Manifests Itself Physically
If your anxious thoughts are accompanied by physical conditions, such as restlessness, fatigue, headaches, muscle pain, inability to sleep or eating problems, among others, it could signal that you have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can lead to gastrointestinal issues, like heartburn, cramping, and even diarrhea. These physical symptoms are as a result of your body being in a constant heightened state of anxiety.
You Can’t Concentrate or Focus
It isn’t that uncommon for people who have a general anxiety disorder to be mistakenly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because when you have an anxiety disorder, you tend to have difficulty focusing.
When you’re always anxious, you tend to be in your head constantly and can get distracted by the negative thoughts and obsessions rattling around. Due to the hormone, cortisol which is automatically released when the amygdala (fight or flight) is triggered, the prefrontal cortex or executive functions of the brain is adversely affected, thereby, leading to concentration problems. You also may start to lose or forget things.
You Have Trouble Sleeping
The anxiety that you experience tends to take your thoughts on a ride that leaves you struggling to catch some zzz’s. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), some level of sleep disruption is present in almost all mental disorders, including anxiety.
The more you have trouble falling sleep, or waking up in the middle of the night, the more you will dread sleep which increases anxiety. Even if you are able to fall asleep, unrestful sleep has a negative impact in all areas, but can be detrimental to driving, working, and making decisions.
If you have more than one of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder. However, before you jump to any conclusions, it’s best to speak with your doctor to rule out any other conditions, because anxiety symptoms often mimic other medical conditions.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be treated so that you can learn to manage your symptoms and get back to living your life. You have the power to overcome but it’s not as easy if anxiety takes over.
It’s important to understand that we all get anxious feelings, which results from change and stressors in our lives. Even good stress (Eustress) will result in emotional and physical feelings. It’s when these get prolonged and out-of-control is when you need to see help.
Using mindfulness practices, such as meditation, journaling, walking, eating healthy, and others are ways to better manage anxiety. Challenging your thoughts is the way to stop worry and thinking ahead – you don’t know the outcome, despite believing it, but you can be solution-focused to better prepare for those future outcomes. Another way is to seek the help of a coach or therapist to help you on this journey. All of these will help you to end the year on a good note to prepare for what is to come.
If you find that your experiencing levels of stress and anxiety, you don’t have to suffer – reach out to get help. We’re here for you.