Identifying Signs of An Anxiety Disorder

After trying to understand more about the types of anxiety disorders, you might be wondering what the symptoms are.  How can you tell if your typical anxiety has crossed over into mental health disorder territory?  It may not be very simple to figure it out, but there are a few signs that can help you to determine if what you are experiencing is temporary or if you have developed an anxiety disorder for which you should find professional help.

Seven Signs of An Anxiety Disorder

1. Excessive Worry

One of the major symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry.  But what constitutes too much worry?  When you cross the line into excessive worry, you are likely to have persistent anxious thoughts on most days for approximately six months.  The worry may get to the point where it is interfering with the rest of your life.

2. Sleep Difficulties

There are a number of health conditions that are associated with prolonged trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.  It is not unusual to have trouble sleeping before a big event or in anticipation of something important.  It is not unusual to have trouble sleeping at random times throughout your adult life.  But when you chronically find yourself staring at the ceiling, awake and agitated, this could be a sign of anxiety.  Another sleep sign that you may have anxiety is if you wake up with your mind racing and have a lot of difficulty calming yourself down.

3. Panic

If you have experienced a sudden, all-encompassing feeling of helplessness and fear that may be accompanied by sweating, difficulty breathing, a racing heartbeat, or other terrifying physical symptoms, you have probably had a panic attack.  Some of the people who have panic attacks have generalized anxiety disorder, but other people who regularly have panic attacks could be diagnosed with a panic disorder.  Since it can be very difficult to pinpoint the triggers of a panic attack, panic disorder sufferers sometimes live in fear until they start getting help for their disorder.

4. Irrational or Unprovoked Fear

While many anxiety sufferers have a generalized kind of anxiety, others have very specific kinds of anxieties and fears.  For some, the fear comes on in crowds.  For some, they have fears of flying, heights, or different kinds of animals.  These specific kinds of phobias may not be obvious all the time.  You may not even know that you have this kind of fear until you are presented with a specific situation and find that you cannot overcome the fear.

5. Chronic Self-consciousness

Social anxiety does not always involve being the center of attention or the life of the party.  In many cases, social anxiety can be provoked by every day situations like walking into a crowded room or being in a public place.  In these kinds of situations, people who have social anxiety disorder can feel like they are being looked at be everyone in the room.  They tend to blush easily.  They can have difficulty talking or sweat excessively.  These kinds of symptoms can make it difficult for the sufferer to meet new people and make relationships.

6. Tense Muscles

You may be so used to your chronically tense muscles that you do not even know that you have them.  You could be clenching your jaw, balling your fists, or hunching your shoulders all the time without even knowing it.  There is a simple test for this.  Take a minutes to sit very still.  Think about each of the muscles in your body.  Tighten and loosen each one in turn.  Take note of how your muscles feel when they are tight and how they feel when you release them.  Do you have a lot to tighten?  Is there much release when you relax?  Constantly tense muscles is a sign of constant anxiety.

7. Self-doubt

Second guessing yourself and doubting that you are able to do things is a common sign of generalized anxiety disorder and of obsessive compulsive disorder.  Sometimes the self-doubt gets to the point where you are unable to make a simple decision.  This is when you have crossed over from the self-doubt that almost everyone feels sometimes into  an anxiety disorder.