Occasional anxiety is a useful emotion. It alerts you to danger, it encourages you to prepare for important events, and it gives you energy and focus to perform at your best. However, if you always feel anxious, or you get too anxious, anxiety can be debilitating. Too much anxiety can interfere with your life and even damage your health. If your anxiety is more of a liability than an asset, you may have an anxiety disorder. Here are common symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
You feel anxious much of the time
Anxiety is meant to be a an emotional response to a threat. Something happens that might require you to act, you feel anxious, the event is resolved in some way, and you relax. However, if you have an anxiety disorder, you may worry all the time, about minor problems or no problem at all. The fight-or-flight response never shuts off.
Panic attacks are a classic sign of an anxiety disorder. This is when anxiety gets completely out of control. Instead of helping you deal with a problem, your anxiety becomes a problem in itself. You may have trouble breathing, racing heart, dizziness, or nausea. Panic attacks are often mistaken for heart attacks. They can be caused by something specific, such a test or giving a speech, or they might appear to be spontaneous. Sometimes the fear of a panic attack can cause a panic attack.
You have phobias
Phobias are a specific type of anxiety disorder. A phobia is an intense, often irrational fear of something. You may be aware that your fear is irrational but you’re still afraid.
You’re very tense
Since anxiety is to prepare you for action, you are likely to feel tense most of the time if you have an anxiety disorder. You will likely notice the tension most in your jaw, neck, shoulders, and possibly your stomach and fists. Because you are tense all the time, you are also likely to feel fatigued.
Anxiety can cause a number of health issues. The most obvious are digestive issues, such as stomach cramps, indigestion, and diarrhea. Headaches are also common, partly because of constant tension in your face, jaw, and neck. You may also experience pain in your back or joints. Anxiety makes you more sensitive to pain, and also increases tension in your muscles. Prolonged anxiety can impair your immune system and lead to more frequent illnesses.
You have trouble sleeping
When you’re worried all the time, it’s easy to stay awake at night thinking about your problems, or start awake at four in the morning and not be able to sleep again as you wait for the alarm. Unfortunately, lack of sleep can make anxiety even worse.
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