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Signs And Symptoms You Have An Anxiety Disorder And What To Do

Anxiety Disorder

You're anxious thoughts don’t go away.

If you have an anxiety disorder, you tend to be become extremely anxious in situations where your friends or family might get only a little anxious, Lee says. Like during a yearly family gathering, for example.

“Your anxiety also tends to be long-lasting or persistent; it never seems to dissipate,” she says. “When our anxiety begins impacting your daily life and ability to live a fulfilling life,” that’s when it becomes an issue, she says.

Your anxiety is coupled with other symptoms.

GAD can also manifest as physical conditions, including muscular pain, restlessness, and fatigue, among others, says L.A. Barlow, Psy.D., of Barlow Professional Services PC.

And don’t be surprised if you also experience gastrointestinal issues, says Barlow. Anxiety disorders can lead to GI upset, including diarrhea, cramping, and heartburn, since your body is always in a heightened state of anxiety (there’s a reason why some people feel physically ill from nerves–the gut-mind connection is very strong, says Barlow).

You can’t focus.

It’s not uncommon for people with GAD to be mistakenly perceived as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Lee says.

That’s because individuals with anxiety disorders often have a difficult time focusing. “You are constantly in your head and get distracted by all the obsessions and negativity rattling around in there,” she says. “To an outsider, it looks like you have ADHD.”

You actually worry about worrying.

Yes, many anxiety disorders are triggered by specific worries: GAD, for example, might make you worry about the unknown, like what your future holds; while a phobia might make you fear the immediate, like a spider dropping down in front of you.

You’re always afraid of making the ‘wrong’ decision.

If you are dealing with an anxiety disorder, then Lee says your decision-making skills become pretty much shot.

Anxiety disorders “make you indecisive because you fear making the wrong choice,” she says. “You fall into an endless pit of worries as you think about all the endless possibilities and outcomes to your decisions—and that worry can be paralyzing.”
anxiety, stress

You want to avoid all of the things.

It’s not uncommon for a person with an anxiety disorder to avoid situations—no matter the level of importance—in order to quell excessive feelings of anxiousness, Barlow says.

But Lee points out that that avoidance actually feeds into anxiety disorders, too. “The relief you feel from escaping anxiety-provoking situations reinforces anxiety,” she says. “Instead, you should learn to accept and cope with anxiety, which takes its power away.”

You find it impossible to snooze.

Anxiety has a way of taking your thoughts on a ride that leaves you unable to catch some shut-eye. (At the height of my GAD, I’d be up for several hours in the middle of the night.) According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), some level of sleep disruption is present in nearly all psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders.

You always see the glass as half empty.

It’s not uncommon for anxiety disorders to strip you of any optimism or hope for the future, Lee says. “As a result, as you think about the different outcomes for your decisions, they often lead to one conclusion: It will suck,” she says. “The future seems bleak and hopeless. You feel out of control.”
So what do you do if you think you have an anxiety disorder?

If your symptoms checked a lot of the boxes above, there’s a good chance you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder. But before you make assumptions, Barlow says it’s important to first make sure you rule out other possibilities, seeing as how symptoms of anxiety (like fatigue or stomach upset) can mimic other health conditions.

Once you have a diagnosis: “The most helpful thing you can do if you struggle with anxiety is to get professional help,” Lee says, adding that sleep, eating healthfully and staying active can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Treatment for anxiety disorders can also include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), coping skills, and possibly even medication.


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