15 Ways to Tell If You're Suffering From an Anxiety Disorder

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Everyone feels anxious sometimes. You might fret about the future or feel nervous before a first date. But some people feel anxious all of the time - or at least it seems like it. For people with an anxiety disorder, their anxious feelings can be so frequent or severe that they interfere with their everyday lives. But how can you tell whether your anxiety is normal or if it's a diagnosable condition?

Anxiety is often joked about, but it's really nothing to look at lightly. These disorders can make it difficult for those suffering from them to go about their daily lives; they can interfere with job performance, school, and personal relationships. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it is estimated that more than 19 percent of Americans are living with an anxiety disorder. And approximately 31.1 percent of adults in the United States will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives.

That's nearly one-third of the population - and yet, awareness of anxiety and what it really looks like could still be improved. Though anxiety cannot be cured necessarily, it can be treated with proper access to mental health care. But before anxiety can be treated, the person suffering needs to know that they may have a mental condition and can reach out for help. These 15 signs are common indicators of an anxiety disorder.

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You're often worried

Everyday worries, like "When is my cable bill due?" and "I hope that work presentation goes OK!" are normal. If you never worried about anything, you would be a robot. But people with anxiety disorders feel worried more days than not, and often these worries prevent them from living out their daily lives. The amount of distress a person with anxiety feels is often disproportionate to the situation that caused it. Anxious thoughts can spiral and quickly worsen. If your worrying prevents you from concentrating on what's going on around you or prevents you from living your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

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It's hard to concentrate on daily tasks

As you might imagine, excessive worrying can be very distracting. People who suffer from anxiety often find it difficult to concentrate on daily tasks. A study of 175 adults found that 90 percent of them had a hard time concentrating. The worse their anxiety, the more difficult it was to focus.

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When you get stressed, it is very difficult to calm down

A small stressor might not remain small for someone with an anxiety disorder. While most people are able to talk themselves out of spiraling, this is much more difficult for someone with anxiety to do. minor source of stress, such as a strange look from a coworker or a last-minute change in scheduling, can end up altering the trajectory of that person's entire day. nxiety symptoms tend to build on one another. Working with a mental health professional to learn tools and tactics to prevent this from happening can be beneficial.

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Your heart rate gets sky high

Your sympathetic nervous system can also spike your heart rate, resulting in a racing pulse and increased feelings of alertness. Your brain is perceiving danger, and therefore is pumping blood through your body at a much higher rate. This happens when you're scared or alarmed for other, more obvious reasons. But people with anxiety can experience this reaction without any external triggers.

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You feel restless

Maybe you feel like squirming out of your chair or have an inexplicable urge to get up and move. Some people describe the feeling as "on edge." If you have anxiety, your brain perceives danger where there is none - and it's giving you jitters. Not all people with anxiety experience this effect, but many doctors use it as a basis for diagnosis, especially in children.

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You're always tired

This might seem counterintuitive. You're always on red alert, but you're also always tired? But if you have anxiety, you may know exactly how that feels. People with anxiety can become easily fatigued or may even experience chronic fatigue. Sometimes, this exhaustion only follows after the person has endured a panic attack. But for others, it can be more common. However, fatigue can come from any number of causes, including other mental health disorders. So fatigue is by no means an immediate diagnosis.

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You're irritable or moody

You might find yourself more prone to getting upset by otherwise minor annoyances or snapping at people throughout the day. According to a recent study, 90 percent of adults with anxiety reported feeling irritable when their anxiety would strike.

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You have trouble falling asleep

Your worrying could literally be keeping you up at night; this is especially likely if you're someone with anxiety. Having trouble falling and staying asleep is characteristic of many people's experiences who suffer from anxiety. Insomnia can take its toll on your physical health, as well as make mental health problems (including anxiety) worse. To help combat this, there are certain bedtime rituals and meditations you can try. Talk with a mental health professional to see what sleep-promoting behaviors may work for you.

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You experience panic attacks

Many people think that all panic attacks look the same: someone crying, screaming, or generally appearing panicked in an extreme way. However, some panic attacks are much more subtle than that, and they can occur in many different forms. The one thing that all panic attacks have in common is that they entail a sudden and overwhelming sense of fear. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, they are often characterized by symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, shaking, sweating, shortness of breath, throat constriction, nausea, dizziness, and more. These episodes most commonly peak in severity after 10 minutes before beginning to subside.

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You tend to isolate yourself

Many people with an anxiety disorder experience what's called social anxiety, wherein a person is fearful of social situations. As a result, a person may avoid these situations entirely and turn to isolation for comfort. But in the long run, prolonged isolation may do more harm to the person's mental health than good.

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You have specific and irrational fears

These fears are called "phobias," and they're more common than you might think. According to some studies, 12.5 percent of Americans will experience a phobia at some point in their lives. People have phobias to many different things, but some examples might be a particular type of animal, natural disasters, objects such as needles, or environments. Agoraphobia, for instance, is a fear of open and public spaces. If you find that there are certain situations or objects that trigger irrational levels of fear, it may be characteristic of an anxiety disorder.

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Your muscles are sore

Not because you just hit the gym. Due to all the muscle tension involved with anxiety, some people report soreness and agitation of their muscles. The feeling may be similar to a constant strain or tightness. Any muscle group can be affected, but many with anxiety experience soreness in the neck and upper back.

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You feel faint or dizzy

When people feel anxious or stressed, they often report feeling lightheaded and dizzy. Reciprocally, dizziness can cause anxiety. According to the Academy of Neurologic Physical Therapy, this may be due to the fact that both functions are involved with the area of the body near your inner ear. During panic attacks especially, someone with anxiety may find themselves feeling faint.

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You have sweaty palms

Anxiety can manifest physically in many ways, one of which is otherwise unexplained sweating. This is due to the way anxiety interferes with your sympathetic nervous system - that's the part of your nervous system responsible for the "fight or flight" response you're wired with for survival. When this part of your body gets triggered, you may begin to sweat. This sweating typically is concentrated in the palms.

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You have indigestion

Anxiety can wreak havoc on your digestive system, causing nausea, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. According to the Mayo Clinic, this may be caused by changes to the nervous system and anxiety's interference in hormones and the brain's response to neurotransmitters. The Mayo Clinic also says that people with indigestion may be more likely to have even more symptoms of anxiety as a result, especially if they believe their indigestion is due to something wrong with their health. If you are suffering from an upset stomach, these soothing teas can help!

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