The anxiety disorder signs and symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people may experience difficulty breathing or difficulty sleeping(insomnia). While some others may tremble and sweat in fear and agony.
It is possible for people suffering from anxiety to experience slight to extreme fear. The fear of a situation or stimuli that appear larger than life can take the shape of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can leave you devastated when left unattended and untreated. What’s more, is that your life may take turn for the worse case scenario.
The good news is you can still manage and control anxiety. Before it develops into some kind of a disorder. It can be done by going through effective treatment.
In this article, we will talk about all the physical and psychological anxiety disorder signs and symptoms in detail.
Anxiety disorder signs and symptoms to look out for:
1. Sleep Disorder or Insomnia.
2. Worrying is a Sign of Anxiety.
3. Excessive Sweating and Trembling in Fear.
4. Depression is a Sign of Anxiety Disorder.
5. A Feeling of Restlessness.
6. Lack of Concentration at Work or Studies.
7. Experience Gastrointestinal Problems.
8. Fatigue is an Anxiety Disorder Sign.
9. Social Phobia is an Anxiety Disorder Sign.
10. Muscle Tension is a Sign of Anxiety Disorder.
11. Irrelevant Fears.
Sleep Disorder or Insomnia
Sleep disorder is one of the most common anxiety disorder signs and symptoms.
People suffering from anxiety disorders often find it difficult to sleep. Some even suffer from acute insomnia.
The quality of your sleep is directly related to your mental health and wellbeing. Similarly, your mental health is directly related to your sleep quality.
It might not come as a surprise but your sleeping pattern says a lot about your health. It is a proven fact backed by hundreds of individual research papers.
A healthy person, for example, will most likely sleep soundly every night. Whereas, a mentally disturbed person will experience sleeplessness every once in a while.
It has something to do with the disturbance in the natural sleep-wake cycle. Due to higher levels of cortisol hormone.
Cortisol hormone also known as stress hormone can affect your sleep mechanism. A higher level of cortisol hormone for a longer period of time may have a negative impact on your sleep-wake cycle.
The cortisol hormone or the stress hormone level does not stay high for too long. It is only high abnormally when people get stress for a long period of time.
Research reports suggest that stressed young adults are more at risk of suffering from a sleep disorder. They might as well develop depression as a side effect of insomnia.
One might say insomnia, anxiety, and depression go hand in hand which is true in most cases. But it is still too early to tell which one is the cause and which one is the effect.
One thing is clear though i.e. when people with anxiety disorders go under treatment, their quality of sleep improves.
Worrying is a Sign of Anxiety
People suffering from anxiety disorders often find themselves feeling worried. It is one of the most common anxiety disorder signs.
The reason behind their worries can be as trivial as getting late for work. This makes things even more complicated.
They overreact to their trivial everyday situations. Without the presence of actual stimuli into play.
As a result, they are unable to work or function properly.
If this is the case with someone you know, he/she might be suffering from General anxiety disorder (GAD).
General anxiety disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. It is a condition where a person shows signs of worries for more than six months.
Working-age people are more at risk of suffering from a general anxiety disorder.
The underlying causes of GAD are difficult to pinpoint. Since more than one factors come into play.
Some of the causes that may trigger GAD in adults according to NHS include;
- Genetics or inheritance of bad genes from parents with a general anxiety disorder.
- Dealing with illnesses such as chronic pain for a relatively long period of time.
- Physical or mental abuse during childhood
- The chemical imbalance in the brain compromising mental health.
- May develop without any reason at all.
Some of the common symptoms seen in people suffering from GAD include;
- Sleeping difficulties,
- A feeling of restlessness,
- Increased heartbeat and dizziness, etc.
Excessive Sweating and Trembling in Fear
People with anxiety disorder often experience excessive sweating. Some may even tremble in fear of the unknown making their lives miserable.
It is mostly the case with people suffering from panic disorder. Panic disorder is also a type of anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is characterized by frequent and intense panic attacks. People suffering from panic disorder may experience panic attacks periodically.
Panic attacks are short periods of intense fear. It may cause excessive sweating, trembling, shortness of breath in patients.
Some may even get a bad feeling about upcoming future events.
The underlying causes of panic disorder are still unknown. But there are a few known factors that may cause a panic attack. They are:
- Major stressful events,
- Sudden chemical changes in the brain causing the brain to function in a different way.
It is normal for people to experience panic attacks from time to time. But if the panic attacks persist and are more frequent, then it might be a strong sign of an anxiety disorder.
The situation only gets worse from here if left untreated.
Some of the complications of panic disorder include:
- Depression disorder,
- Suicidal thoughts, etc.
Consulting a doctor or a health professional is highly recommended.
Depression is a Sign of Anxiety Disorder
It is common for people to mistake anxiety for depression and vice-versa. One reason for the confusion between the two being their common symptoms.
Also, anxiety and depression usually occur together making them even more inseparable.
But they are completely different from each other. Yet they usually have similar treatment methods.
Some of the common treatments for depression and anxiety include:
- Use of antidepressants,
- Psychological counseling,
- Change in lifestyle, etc.
Apart from their similarities in symptoms and treatment methods, they also go with one another.
Sometimes anxiety may occur as a symptom of major depressive disorder. Other times depression may appear as a symptom of generalized anxiety disorder.
Thus, whenever someone is suffering from depression, there’s a high chance of them developing GAD.
It is best that you test for general anxiety disorder whenever you are under depression.
A Feeling of Restlessness
It is common for people with anxiety disorders to feel restless most of the time. The feeling of restlessness is defined as unable to sit back and relax.
Studies conducted on anxiety patients suggest that a majority of people with anxiety disorder have this urge to keep moving.
They find themselves on the edge every time and want to escape but don’t know where to.
Their desire to move out and run away from everything is very strong. Causing them to lose focus at work and blank out from time to time.
They may even experience sleeping difficulties and immense fear.
Restlessness is a flight or fight response that is passed down to us from the stone age.
Every living being is born with this protective mechanism. This mechanism comes into play in every aspect of our lives, especially the critical ones.
But it can sometimes go berserk and make things and situations complicated.
Sometimes people are born with a defective mechanism. The faulty mechanism may backfire from time to time making people restless.
The symptoms of restlessness should last for at least six months for one to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Lack of Concentration at Work or Studies
lack of concentration at work or studies is common anxiety disorder signs and symptoms.
There is a wide range of factors, including anxiety, that may cause people to lack concentration.
Some of the factors behind people lacking concentration include:
- Injury to the brain,
- Sleep disorders,
- Learning disabilities,
- Boredom, etc.
Lack of concentration is one of the common symptoms of anxiety disorder. In a study conducted on Anxiety patients, more than half experienced difficulty concentrating.
The percentage of people having difficulty concentrating is higher in adult anxiety patients. As compared to children and teenagers. In another study, about 90 percent of the participants had difficulty concentrating.
Lack of concentration in anxiety patients is linked with interrupted working memory. Anxiety can change the way our brain functions. It can greatly affect the way we remember things.
If you too are facing difficulty concentrating then it is time you get alert. But do not get worked- up just yet. Look for some other signs and symptoms before jumping to a conclusion.
Experience Gastrointestinal Problems
Gastrointestinal problems such as stomach cramps are common anxiety disorder signs and symptoms.
Pain in the stomach and abdominal region is one of the most common side effects of stress and anxiety.
People often complain about having stomach pain when they feel tense. Those with existing stomach pain may experience severe pain. Mostly in the form of stomach cramps, abdominal cramps, etc.
The sharp pain in the stomach can be more than just an upset stomach. It can be more of gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
IBS or spastic colon is a common disorder affecting one in five adults in the United States.
It affects the large intestine causing mild to severe pain in the stomach and abdominal region. There’s no one specific cause of developing irritable bowel syndrome. But some health experts suggest that having a sensitive colon might cause IBS in people.
The symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome may include:
- Stomach cramps,
- Abdominal pain,
- Diarrhea, etc.
People with spastic colon disorder are likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. People with some kind of anxiety disorder are more likely to develop IBS disorder.
It is due to anxiety causing the central nervous system to backfire. The colon is the region controlled by the central nervous system and is thus affected.
Suffering from a gastrointestinal problem might be a possible symptom of anxiety disorder.
Fatigue is an Anxiety Disorder Sign
It is only natural to feel tired and weak at the end of the day once you burn out all your energy reserves. Becoming fatigued is one way your body tells you that you need to stop and get some good rest.
But sometimes your fatigue might not feel natural to you. You might feel tired very easily even when you are getting enough rest and time to recuperate.
If this is what you have been experiencing lately then there is a slight possibility that you might be suffering from GAD. Feeling fatigued is one of the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
It is only a possibility though and your fatigue might be due to some other causes. Lack of sleep and some underlying diseases such as diabetes might as well be the reason behind your recent fatigue.
So it is quite difficult to pinpoint whether your fatigue is natural. Or you are experiencing it as a side effect of anxiety disorder.
Luckily there are a few ways of finding out whether your fatigue is actually due to anxiety or not. All you need to do is look for these signs of fatigue given below.
Signs of fatigue:
- You feel tired even after having a good night’s sleep,
- No amount of coffee seems to make you feel good,
- Your stomach feels upset,
- Loss of appetite,
- You feel more tired than usual,
- Your thoughts are clouded,
- You are experiencing muscle and joint pain, and
- You feel tired even before you do anything.
If you see any of the signs then chances of you feeling tired due to anxiety are significantly higher. It would be best if you consult with your general physician and get treatment.
Fatigue in adults is an general anxiety disorder sign and thus must not be overlooked.
Social Phobia is an Anxiety Disorder Sign
Social phobia is a common anxiety disorder sign and symptoms.
Anxiety is not just about feeling low or irritable or depressed, it’s more than that. People with social phobia or social disorder experience things and situations very differently.
They may not have tensed muscles, nor experience fatigue. But what they may experience is something completely different. People with a social anxiety disorder try to avoid social situations altogether.
They may find it difficult to talk to people or appear in the public. They hate social gatherings and fear being judged by society. Even if they were to attend any social events, they appear very self-conscious.
People with social phobia are mostly afraid of the spotlight. Or the limelight where everyone’s attention is fixated on them. Times when they need to perform in front of the mass or give a speech in public freaks them out.
There are some who exhibit stage fright or performance anxiety. They may exhibit physical symptoms of anxiety such as:
- Numb feet,
- Trembling in fear,
- Increased heartbeat, etc.
They fear being judged, rejected, and humiliated. Some may find comfort in booze and nicotine and are more likely to develop addiction over time. They might end up as a loner with no or very few friends.
Some other symptoms of social phobia may include;
- May have a rigid body posture and speak with an overlaid soft voice,
- Make little or no eye contact at all while having a conversation,
- Blush or go blank whenever they are on a date,
- Stay away from places where there is a crowd, etc.
Social distancing is a common symptom seen in people with social phobia. People with social anxiety disorder fear others opinion more than anything.
Muscle Tension is a Sign of Anxiety Disorder
Muscle tension is common anxiety disorder signs and symptoms
It is mostly the case with people suffering from panic disorder. People with anxiety may experience mild to severe muscle pain in different areas.
Anxiety often contributes to longer periods of stress. Stress, as we know, is a bodily mechanism to activate the flight or fight reaction in human beings. When the flight or fight mechanism is activated, your muscle tends to tighten naturally. It is only a temporary response of our body against threats.
But in the case of anxiety, muscle tension lasts for a longer period of time. Thus resulting in discomfort and pain in the muscles.
Women may experience muscle tension in a completely different way. Their muscle pain might be the result of lower estrogen hormone production in the body. This is followed by an increase in the production of cortisol hormones.
Cortisol hormone increases blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The increase in blood pressure causes muscle tension. As a result, one may experience pain in the muscles throughout different areas of the body.
Muscle tension is very common in people with panic disorder. They may experience persistent discomfort and pain in different body parts.
Irrelevant fear is a common anxiety disorder sign and symptoms.
If I were to say fear and anxiety go hand in hand then I would not be wrong to say so. It is because fear often leads to anxiety and thus is a sign of anxiety.
People react to different objects and situations differently. It is something more of an acquired behavior over the period of time since early childhood.
Some may find one thing fascinating or desirable while others may find the same thing irrelevant and unwanted.
It is the same when it comes to fear of certain things, objects, and situations. Moreover, some people experience extreme fear when they come face to face with certain objects and situations. It is termed a phobia.
A phobia in other words is defined as an extreme fear or anxiety about certain objects or situations. It can leave people devastated and they often lose their ability to function.
Some of the common phobia seen in people include:
- Social Phobia: It is a fear of socializing, going out with friends, fear of being judged and embarrassed, etc.
- Acrophobia: It is a fear of heights.
- Agoraphobia: It is a complex anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for people to live a normal life.
- Arachnophobia: It is a fear of spiders.
- Hemophobia: It is a fear of blood.
- Hydrophobia: It is a fear of water.