Anxiety. A word that we use quite often in our day-to-day lives without truly understanding its meaning. Many times, we, in a joke, blame certain behavior or reactions on our anxiety. The fact of the matter, however, is that most people do experience anxiety at some point in their life, and not dealing with it in a healthy manner can have an adverse affect on our mental health.
In a recent interview, actor Alia Bhatt opened up about how she has dealt with bouts of feeling low and anxious over the past 5-6 months. The truth is that experiencing anxiety is usually a pretty common reaction to certain stressful situations like changing jobs, moving, breakups, financial or work stress. However, when symptoms of anxiety become larger than the events that triggered them, and begin to interfere with your life, they could be signs of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but it can be managed with proper help from a medical professional. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step. Here are 11 common symptoms of an anxiety disorder, that would tell you when to seek professional help.
1. Excessive Worrying.
Not to be confused with normal day-to-day worries, the worrying associated with anxiety disorder must occur on a daily basis for close to 6 months. This kind of worrying is also severe and intrusive, making it difficult to concentrate and accomplish daily tasks.
2. Feeling Agitated.
When someone is feeling anxious, his or her sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. A rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking and dry mouth are all common symptoms of anxiety. People with anxiety disorders may experience this kind of arousal for extended periods of time.
This is a pretty common symptom of anxiety, especially in younger people. When someone is experiencing restlessness, they often describe it as feeling ‘on edge’ or having ‘an uncomfortable urge to move.’
Though this might seem surprising, fatigue following an attack or just a general feeling of being tired and listless is a common symptom of anxiety. Insomnia or muscle tension caused by anxiety can also trigger this. It is, however, important to pay attention to other symptoms, as fatigue can be indicative of depression and many other medical conditions as well.
5. Difficulty Concentrating.
Studies have shown that people who suffer from anxiety have difficulty concentrating in up to 90% cases. Some studies show that anxiety can interrupt working memory, a type of memory responsible for holding short-term information. This may help explain the dramatic decrease in performance people often experience during periods of high anxiety.
According to a study, young and middle-aged adults with generalized anxiety disorder reported more then twice as much irritability in their day-to-day lives. In these cases, people admit to feeling highly irritable, especially when their anxiety is at its peak.
7. Tense Muscles.
Having tense muscles most days of the week is another common symptom of anxiety. This can lead to other chronic health issues as well.
8. Trouble falling or staying asleep.
Sleep disturbances are strongly associated with anxiety disorders. Having trouble falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night are two of its most common symptoms. While insomnia and anxiety are strongly linked, it is unclear whether insomnia contributes to anxiety, if anxiety contributes to insomnia, or both
9. Panic Attacks.
One type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder is associated with recurring panic attacks. Panic attacks produce an intense, overwhelming sensation of fear that can be debilitating. This extreme fear is typically accompanied by rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea and fear of dying or losing control. Panic attacks can happen in isolation, or on a reoccurring basis.
10. Avoiding social situations.
You might be suffering from anxiety disorder if you find yourself fearful or anxious about upcoming social situations, and worried that you may be judged, humiliated or scrutinized by others, often irrationally. This aloofness can sometimes make people with social anxiety appear snobby or standoffish, but the disorder is associated with low self-esteem, high self-criticism and depression
So, what can you do about it?
There are many natural ways to reduce anxiety and help you feel better, including:
- Eating a healthy diet: Diets rich in vegetables, fruits, high-quality meats, fish, nuts and whole grains can lower the risk of developing anxiety disorders, but diet alone is probably not enough to treat them.
- Consuming probiotics and fermented foods: Taking probiotics and eating fermented foods and have been associated with improved mental health.
- Limiting caffeine: Excessive caffeine intake may worsen feelings of anxiety in some people, especially those with anxiety disorders.
- Abstaining from alcohol: Anxiety disorders and alcohol abuse are strongly linked, so it may help to stay away from alcoholic beverages.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Quitting is associated with improved mental health.
- Exercise: Regular exercise has been linked to a lower risk of developing an anxiety disorder, but research is mixed on whether it helps those who have already been diagnosed.
- Trying meditation: Any form of meditation or mindfulness has been proven to be extremely helpful in reducing anxiety or stress.
- Practicing yoga: Regular yoga has been shown to reduce symptoms in people diagnosed with anxiety disorders, but more high-quality research is needed.
Seeking professional help.
If none of these measures prove helpful, it’s important to seek out the help of qualified mental health professionals and to get the treatment that you need. Licensed psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to treat anxiety disorders through a variety of means. This often includes cognitive behavioral therapy, anti-anxiety medications or some of the natural therapies listed above. Working with a professional can help you manage your anxiety and reduce your symptoms as quickly and safely as possible.