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11 Signs you might be experiencing some form of Anxiety Disorder.

Updated: Jun 26, 2021

Is your anxiety becoming larger than the events that trigger this emotion? Here's some signs to watch out for.

Many people experience anxiety in response to various stressful events in their lives. Here's some signs what you might be experiencing goes outside the norm.


Anxiety is a very normal response to stressful life events. These stressful life events can take all shapes and forms, including career-related ones such as switching to a new job or taking up a new project you have little experience in.


It can also be social in nature, like having to give a presentation in front of a roomful of people, or even having to go to a gathering where you'd have to make conversation with people you don't know.


Different people experience different triggers for anxiety. You might know someone who's really anxious about his or her own health or the health of family members, while another person is more anxious around financial matters. You might even know someone who gets anxious about being in the same room as an insect or a house lizard, such as my wonderful wife.


However, when the symptoms of anxiety become larger than the events that trigger them in the first place and start to interfere with your life, these are signs of an anxiety disorder.


For example, if in fear of a house lizard being present, my wife started to get anxious and have a meltdown every single time she entered a new room, that becomes something outside the norm. The anxiety in this hypothetical scenario are due to machinations all in her own head, rather than an actual threat (i.e. lizard) being present.


There are many kinds of anxiety disorders. These include:

  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Panic Disorder

  • Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

  • Various forms of Phobias.


These disorders are all very tough to experience and deal with, but can be managed with proper help from a mental health professional. Your main job is to recognise if you or a loved one has these symptoms in the first place, so you know if it's time to seek help.


The below are 11 common symptoms of an anxiety disorder, and are not specific to any one type of anxiety disorder.



1) You worry excessively.


One of the key symptoms in diagnosing an anxiety disorder is excessive worrying.


The worrying involved is disproportionate to the events that trigger it. You start to feel extremely worried or nervous about these events and other things in your life, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them.


It can typically arise in response to normal, everyday situation. You start to overthink and imagine all sorts of scenarios and outcomes as to what happens. It might even become an endless loop playing out in your mind. When it becomes severe enough that it becomes a daily occurrence or interferes with your life and mood, then it really becomes a cause for concern.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed if this excessive worrying persists almost daily for at least six months.



2) You find your worry very hard to control.


In addition to worrying excessively, you find your worry spiralling out of control easily. This worry might jump from one topic to another. Your mind seems to automatically conjure up several possible outcomes of whatever it is you're worried about.


It seems really difficult to quiet down your mind. Without being able to control this worry effectively, you might experience physiological or emotional symptoms like the below.



3) You feel easily agitated or irritated.


Whatever is triggering your anxiety has caused you to go into Fight or Flight mode. To prepare you for possible danger, your sympathetic nervous system goes into overdrive. Your bodily functions start to prepare to tackle this real or even imagined event.


What you might start experiencing are heightened senses like in your hearing, a racing pulse, sweaty palms, shaky hands and a dry mouth. This is your body sending blood to your muscles and sensory functions that are useful for dealing with a threat.


These are what the physical signs of being agitated looks like, which is useful when the threat is real, such as getting into a fight with another person. However, when the threat is all in your head, it becomes severely debilitating.


According to the statistics, almost 90% of those with generalized anxiety disorder reported feeling highly irritable during periods when their anxiety disorder was at its worst.



4) You have a sense of restlessness and being on edge.


When you're experiencing anxiety, you might feel that you are 'sitting on the edge' or have the urge to move all the time.


You feel unable to simply relax and stay calm, and feel uncomfortable just staying and settling in one spot. Your mind and body for some reason is telling you to keep moving or 'solve the problem!'.


Around 74% of those experiencing generalized anxiety disorder report this symptom.



5) You're tired. All the time.


Another common symptom of Anxiety Disorders is feeling easily tired or fatigued all the time.


This is not difficult to imagine, since your body and mind is in overdrive. It might even be caused by insomnia, which is another symptom described below.




6) Falling asleep is difficult and you wake up multiple times at night.


Experiencing disturbance to your sleep is another very common symptom of anxiety.


The two most reported symptoms related to this are difficulties falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night.

There are a number of reasons for this. It might be that your mind is overactive and you find it difficult to calm it down. The hyper-arousal of your bodily functions might also be cause.


Insomnia might even be the cause of the anxiety itself, rather than vice-versa, as some research has found that people who experienced insomnia early in life were more likely to develop anxiety later on.



7) You have massive difficulties concentrating.


Anxiety disrupts an important part of your thinking processes called your Working Memory.


This is the part of your memory used to process short-term information, and you use it when you're trying to process a mental operation in your mind or when you need to retain information for a short while.


Without full capability of your Working Memory, it becomes hard to concentrate on the things you have to do in your daily life. Staying focused on work or studies become challenging. People experiencing Anxiety report a dramatic decrease in their performance at work or school.



8) Your muscles feel tense or sore.


Even if you go to the gym or exercise regularly, it's uncommon for you to feel tension or soreness in your muscles nearly everyday.


Yet, this is a symptom reported in People experiencing Anxiety. It is not totally clear why anxiety might cause muscle tension, or vice versa, however some research findings have shown that therapies involving muscle relaxation has been very helpful in managing Anxiety.



9) You experience Panic Attacks.


One key difference in diagnosing Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) versus Panic Disorder (PD) is whether you experience recurring Panic Attacks.


If you're not sure what Panic Attacks feel like, emotionally it's an intense, overwhelming sensation of fear that debilitates you. Physically, what you feel is a rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest tightness, nausea and fear of dying or losing control.


During this period, you're unable to function at all, The world seems to be crashing down on you and all rationality goes out of the window. It's a really difficult experience to have and if you experience this frequently, it's a sign you might have Panic Disorder.



10) You avoid social situations on purpose.


Don't make the mistake of equating Introversion with Social Anxiety. Introversion is a type of personality trait, where an introverted person feels more energised from spending time alone. He or she is totally okay spending time with other people, but too much time doing so and their energy runs out.


If you're an Extrovert, then it's the total opposite case. You feel much more reinvigorated when you're out and around people.


Social Anxiety is a totally different thing as there is a component of fear at play. You might experience signs of this if you find yourself:

  • Feeling anxious or fearful about upcoming social situations.

  • Worrying about being judged or scrutinised by others.

  • Feeling afraid of being embarrassed or humiliated in front of others.

  • Avoiding certain social events because of these fears.


When you have Social Anxiety Disorder, you experience many of the symptoms described above. When faced with having to be in a social situation, your heart begins to race, you have difficult concentrating, your muscles tense up and you might even lose sleep over it.


It's hard to tell if someone has Social Anxiety Disorder or not. They may appear distressed on the outside, but inside they feel extreme fear and anxiety.



11) You have irrational fears about specific triggers.


Lastly, there are Anxiety Disorders specifically related to Phobias. These can be triggered by sorts of things, such as spiders, snakes, a fear of heights, or a fear of enclosed spaces where it's called Claustrophobia.


Some of the more common types of phobias are related to:

  • Animal Phobias: Fear of insects or animals like dogs.

  • Blood or Injection Phobias: Fear of needles or seeing your own blood.

  • Situational Phobias: Fear of elevators, being on aeroplanes or heights.

  • Agoraphobia: Fear of being outside alone.


When you experience Phobia, it's an intense fear about a specific event or thing. This fear is intense, and may cause a Panic Attack. It stops you from being able to function normally.



Asking for help is the strongest thing you can do.


Anxiety in any form or shape greatly impacts your quality of life. This might even extend to include those of your close family and friends.


If you think you're experiencing some or all of these symptoms, ask for some help. Be it a close friend or a mental help professional, it doesn't make you a weak person. In fact, it makes you the exact opposite.


You've been putting up a strong front long enough.


 

Thanks for reading this article on Kaya Toast for the Soul.


Note this article is meant to be a guide and I am not qualified to make any diagnosis. On the same vein, do be careful about self-diagnosing yourself as you might miss the nuances of the diagnosis that an expert might be pick up.


See a professional if you think you might be experiencing any mental health issues. The road ahead of you will be better with help and a strong support system.


If you think you might have an Anxiety Disorder, there are many resources available and people that are ready to help at any time. Please do check these out below or even drop me an email so I can direct you to someone who can help. Take care!


National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

(8am-12am daily, from 1 Sep 2020)


Mental Well-being

- Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service

- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline (6389-2222)

- Samaritans of Singapore (1800-221-4444)

- Silver Ribbon Singapore (6385-3714)


Counselling

- TOUCHline (Counselling) – 1800 377 2252

National Care Hotline: 1800-202-6868

(8am-12am daily, from 1 Sep 2020)


Mental Well-being

- Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service

- Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline (6389-2222)

- Samaritans of Singapore (1800-221-4444)

- Silver Ribbon Singapore (6385-3714)


Counselling

- TOUCHline (Counselling) – 1800 377 2252

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