It’s natural to worry about financial problems, examinations, and whether or not moving to another country. But if worries about and without grow like a snowball, turn into fears, begin to interfere with normal life and cannot cope with them, it seems that anxiety disorder develops.
According to the WHO, 264 million people in the world have anxiety disorder (there are more women among them). Fortunately, unlike some other mental illnesses, it can be cured. One of the effective methods is cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.
How anxiety disorder occurs is not fully understood, according to Mayo Clinic experts. Various factors affect: from genetic predisposition and psychological trauma experienced in childhood to the use of alcohol and certain medications.
People with anxiety disorder complain about many things, from stomach problems to feeling impossibly tired. According to some estimates, there are about a hundred possible symptoms of the disease. I have selected the most common ones.
Your concern is out of proportion to
Increased anxiety differs from ordinary anxiety in that it is intrusive, negatively affects the quality of life and disrupts a person’s daily activities.
In addition, to be considered a symptom of a disorder, anxiety must appear regularly for six months and become more difficult to control each day. At the same time, the level of anxiety does not reflect the seriousness of the situation that caused it.
Severe anxiety is provoked, among other things, by completely ordinary things, for example, the obsessive thought of an unplugged iron (which is actually turned off) or pillows that are somehow not properly laid.
You are physically ill
Anxiety disorder has signs associated with the deterioration of not only emotional, but also physical condition: dizziness, dry mouth, increased sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, headache.
All of these unpleasant symptoms are the result of overloading the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates breathing, digestion and blood circulation.
The brain, having learned about the danger (it does not understand whether it is real or not), prepares the body for a stressful situation – in case a person has to fight or run away.
With a real threat, such a reaction of the body is really necessary, but with an imaginary one, these effects will only harm – they will continue to bother you until the anxiety goes away.
It is a bad idea to diagnose yourself with anxiety disorder based on these symptoms alone. They can be symptoms of other diseases, so it is best to see a doctor and talk about your complaints.
If a specialist determines that nausea, high blood pressure, and malaise are not caused by physical disorders, it is worth contacting a psychotherapist.
You get tired quickly
Fatigue is associated with the release of cortisol (a stress hormone) in response to anxiety caused by real or imagined problems.
Cortisol prompts the brain to get rid of the source of anxiety, but in an anxiety disorder it is often unclear what triggered the anxiety.
Subsequently, the brain gets tired of working under the pressure of this hormone, especially when it happens almost every day, and from this a general feeling of fatigue appears.
In theory, fatigue could be a consequence of other symptoms of an anxiety disorder – insomnia or muscle tension – but so far scientists have not found confirmation of this.
Of course, anxiety disorder is not diagnosed on the basis of fatigue alone, because it is a common symptom of many diseases, including depression and hypothyroidism.
The treatment of all these conditions is different, therefore, the diagnosis must be approached carefully, taking into account the whole complex of complaints and symptoms.
You can’t sit still
Patients describe this state of anxiety as “an irresistible urge to move.” Anxiety disorder is common among children and adolescents, and restlessness is common among them.
In a study of the behavior of 128 children with this diagnosis, scientists found that 74% of the participants were concerned about the symptom. For comparison: 70% of people experience abdominal pain, and 45% suffer from increased sweating.
Parents may consider this behavior normal, but if the bursts of activity are repeated almost every day for six months, this is a reason to visit a therapist.
You have trouble with concentrating
Have you been complaining about poor concentration for a long time and trying to solve the issue with the help of books on self-development and self-discipline? Surely the authors of such works will say that the point is laziness, unwillingness to move forward or dislike for work.
Sometimes good enough motivation is enough for things to change – but it could also be anxiety disorder. A study of 157 children with increased anxiety found that more than two-thirds of them had difficulty concentrating.
In another study of 175 adults with anxiety disorder, researchers found that 90% of participants complained of low concentration, and the more anxious they got, the worse their concentration.
Anxiety attacks can decrease productivity and negatively affect working memory. Working, or operational, memory helps to store information while a person uses it (it must be borne in mind that working and short-term memory are not the same thing).
And, of course, anxiety disorder isn’t the only reason that gets in the way of doing routine at work or remembering who you just called. Memory and concentration problems are also considered signs of attention deficit disorder and depression.
You are irritable
Irritability arises from the fact that the nervous system becomes hypersensitive to everything that happens, and not because you have a bad temper. A sharp reaction to things that would not have unsettled you before is a characteristic sign of increased anxiety.
A study last year found that over 90% of 6,166 participants experience extreme hot temper during periods of flare-up.
Controlling emotions is difficult, but you can try to learn it. Take a deep breath and analyze what irritates you or under what circumstances it happens.
Taking time out or limiting communication with the trigger person can help prevent mood swings. And if anxiety disorder underlies irritability, then this symptom should disappear as it is treated.
Your muscles are constantly tense
Muscle tension as a symptom of anxiety disorder is poorly understood. But why it occurs is known: the body reacts to stress by contraction of muscles, preparing for any development of events (suddenly you have to run). In the event of an anxiety disorder, there is no need to run anywhere, but the muscles remain tense.
It manifests itself in different ways: clenching of the jaw or fists, muscle pain, spasms, clamps. Sometimes the discomfort reaches the point that a person cannot get out of bed and to alleviate the situation, you need to take medication.
According to Sally Winston, Ph.D. in Psychology and co-director of the Institute for Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Maryland, USA), physical activity helps control muscle tension.
The main thing in this matter is regularity, otherwise it will become more difficult to cope with new bouts of anxiety and pain. Relaxation techniques can also help reduce muscle tension – relaxation therapy has generally been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorder.
You sleep badly
It is not unusual to toss and turn around midnight before a keynote speech or appointment to a new position. But if it happens over and over again – even for no apparent reason – chances are that you have an anxiety disorder.
Most often, people with this diagnosis complain that they fall asleep badly or wake up in the middle of the night. In the morning they get up broken and, not having time to get out of bed, they only think about how to go to bed as soon as possible – and so on in a circle.
Scientists have repeatedly stated the link between insomnia and anxiety disorder. It is not yet clear what is the cause and what is the effect. Most likely, they affect each other, that is, the disorder induces insomnia and vice versa.
So, at King’s College London, a study was conducted – it turned out that insomnia in childhood provokes the development of the disorder in the future.
Not only is sleep disturbance dangerous: according to the American Association for the Study of Anxiety and Depression Disorders, this problem can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
But there is a solution: for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to get rid of both anxiety disorder and insomnia, according to Canadian scientists.
You are scared
Phobia is a separate type of anxiety disorder; it is an irrational fear of specific objects or situations, such as snakes (herpetophobia) or flying an airplane (aerophobia).
If the fear becomes overwhelming, destructive and out of proportion to the actual risk, this is a clear sign of a phobic disorder. A person understands that there are no objective reasons to be afraid, but he cannot control himself.
Phobias complicate and spoil life, often influencing the choice: for example, because of the fear of flying, a person denies himself travel to the countries where he dreams to visit, or spends the weekend watching TV, and not in the forest with friends, fearing insects.
Another phobia is distinguished into a separate type of anxiety disorder – fear of society, or social anxiety disorder.
With this illness, people are afraid that others may condemn, humiliate, reject or negatively evaluate their actions, feel anxiety or fear about events where there will be many guests, or avoid them altogether.
When in public, a person with a social phobia worries about every step and word he takes, begins to blush, stumble – and feels even worse due to the fact that the situation cannot be controlled.
Social phobia is a fairly common problem. In America alone, 15 million people have it, but few of them seek professional help.
You are a perfectionist
It’s okay to make mistakes, analyze, try to avoid them in the future and move on. Condemn, scold yourself, be afraid not to meet someone’s standards and expectations – no.
Striving for excellence through self-flagellation threatens emotional health problems: Scientists have already established a connection between perfectionism and anxiety disorder, where illness is a consequence.
Perfectionists are convinced that you need to be perfect in everything – this applies not only to personal and professional qualities, but to any little things: from polished tiles to a squeak in the bathroom to books arranged alphabetically on the shelf.
But usually the result does not bring pleasure, the person begins to reproach himself for what he could have done better – and undertakes to redo everything, not understanding how and when to stop.
Doctor of Psychology Kataria Mokryu in this case advises setting a timer for two hours – when they expire, stop, no matter how you feel and how well you completed the task.
Try this life hack first at home, and then at work – this way you will begin not only to save time, but also to control your actions.