10 Signs You May Have an Anxiety Disorder

It’s perfectly normal, especially in today’s busy and stressful world, to feel anxious from time to time. You may even experience moments of panic or distress in certain situations. Everyday anxiety isn’t anything to be worried about. But, how do you know when those feelings have crossed the line?
Anxiety shows itself in many different ways. It can be in the form of depression, panic, or even different phobias. So, knowing if what you’re dealing with is ‘normal’ isn’t always as clear as we would like it to be. However, there are a few telltale signs you can look for to determine if your episodes of anxiety could be something more.

1. Constant Worrying
We all worry about different things throughout the day, but when is it too much? One of the biggest symptoms associated with anxiety is excessive worry. If these worrisome thoughts are taking over almost every other aspect of your life, it could be a symptom of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. You may even start to notice that these feelings of worry are causing you to feel fatigued, or interfering with other areas of life, like relationships or your career.

2. Trouble Sleeping
If your worries and anxious thoughts are keeping you up and night and affecting your sleep schedule, it could be an anxiety disorder. You could find yourself worrying about something specific, like your job, or about a dozen little, random things throughout the night, causing you to lose out on sleep. This could start to affect your health negatively in other ways.

3. Waking Up Wired
Another sure sign that your stress is something more than general worry is how you feel when you wake up after a night of little to no sleep. If you haven’t gotten more than a few minutes of rest, but you jump out of bed in the morning feeling wired and unable to calm down, it’s likely anxiety doing the work.

4. Disproportionate Fears/Phobias
Many people have fears about specific things, but when those fears become irrational, it can signal something more. These are considered to be phobias, and they can become crippling if not recognized and taken care of. Phobias occur when the fear outweighs the actual risk of the circumstance or object.

5. Tension
Anxiety can show up in a lot of physical ways. If you’re constantly experiencing muscle tension in your shoulders, neck, etc., it could be your body’s way of responding to constant feelings of stress. There are exercises you can do to help ease this tension and some of the pain that goes with it, but if you find yourself constantly sore with aching, tired muscles, you can feel fairly confident that they aren’t getting a ‘break’ from your body.

6. Upset Stomach
Another physical manifestation of an anxiety disorder is indigestion. Again, It’s not uncommon to experience stomach issues here and there, but chronic indigestion can be a serious problem. If you’re constantly getting stomach cramps, or experiencing bloating, gas, diarrhea, etc., it could be a sign of irritable bowel syndrome, related to anxiety. IBS can also happen on its own, but if you have other anxiety symptoms as well, the two may be linked in specific cases.

7. Self-Consciousness
People with anxiety disorders are often overly-aware of what other people might be thinking or saying. They may get the feeling that everyone is always looking at them, or judging them somehow. This is often referred to as social anxiety, and it can make it difficult to be in social settings, or to meet new people. Symptoms accompanying this type of anxiety usually include things like flushed skin, trembling, or excessive sweating.

8. Panic Attacks
Panic attacks can be a crippling part of an anxiety disorder. They are characterized as sudden, overwhelming feelings of fear and despair. They can last several minutes, and may cause dizziness, nausea, and even chest pain. Because they usually come on so suddenly, it can make them even scarier for the people experiencing them.

9. Obsessive Behaviors
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has often been linked to anxiety in terms of how much we need perfection in our lives. If you have anticipatory anxiety, or you judge yourself on being less than perfect, it could be the sign of a more serious disorder. Your anxiety could be about the mistakes you make, or anything disorderly in your lives. It’s not uncommon for us to be hard on ourselves once in awhile, but when it consumes your thoughts, it’s typically linked to anxiety or depression.

10. Flashbacks
Do you find yourself often flashing back to a particular event? Traumatic events that continue to impact and effect our everyday lives can cause extreme bouts of panic and anxiety. If thoughts of this event are influencing your life negatively, it can be debilitating. Being able to use the right coping resources is necessary in order to move past it in a healthy way.

Again, anxiety disorders show up differently for everyone. Some experience more physical signs than others, and some may not even recognize the symptoms until they become severe. But, if you know what to look for at any given time, you may be able to seek out help that much sooner, and get back to living your life without fear or depression.

Dr. Jeffrey Ditzel is a Psychiatrist in New York City and specializes in issues involving Anxiety and Depression.