Signs And Symptoms Of An Anxiety Disorder – The Basics

signs of anxiety

Research and data have found that nearly 18% of Americans suffer from anxiety. It has also been stated that 8% of children and teenagers experience an anxiety disorder with most people developing symptoms before age 21.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 people, worldwide, suffer from an anxiety disorder. The WHO reports that anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders, globally speaking, with specific phobia, major depressive disorder, and social phobia being the most common anxiety disorders.

Alarming facts, aren’t they? But, how do we determinate if we have some type of anxiety disorder? Sometimes we tend to overthink or feel invalidated because we don feel like what we’re going through can be categorized as a disorder or an illness and that alone can be the start of an anxiety disorder.

What Is Anxiety?

I have talked about anxiety in some of my other blog posts but I still haven’t given an accurate and easy definition of what anxiety is.

According to the American Psychological Association and their resources, anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

So, in simpler terms, anxiety is a collection of thoughts, feelings, fears, worries, among other things, that can easily trigger a person’s ability to make choices or to perform a simple task.

signs and symptoms of anxiety

What Are The Signs And Symptoms?

First of all, let’s get this out of the way; it is normal to worry. Don’t think that because you’re a cautious decision-maker then that means there’s something wrong with you. Anxiety starts getting serious when those thoughts are no longer helpful, but instead, they’re physically and emotionally draining.

Here I am going to be talking about the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder:

• Shaping your life around your fears – Fear is a really strong word, but for some of us, it’s part of our every day lives. Fear can be defined in so many ways, but when you start molding your surroundings around the “what if’s” of life and all the “I am not doing it because I’m scared of the results and the journey itself” then that’s when it starts becoming something more than just an overthought.

• Staying away from social events – Being nervous in front of a crowd is actually a really common thing, we all get nervous sometimes and that’s completely fine. When it starts getting serious is when you’d rather stay home than go to the grocery store because you’re scared that you’re going to see someone you know, or just the simple thought of being surrounded by people terrifies you.

• Trouble sleeping – We often tend to use the nighttime as an escape to overthink. We think about all the things that weren’t said on a conversation, what you should’ve have done when someone invalidated your opinion and even on how you should’ve made that one phone call that would’ve prevented you from being so stressed during the day. This starts being part of your night routine, and before you even know it, it’s four am and you still haven’t slept. It starts becoming an everyday thing and you start to have a less function ability than the one you used to have.

• Physical symptoms – Yes, you’re not reading that wrong. Anxiety can have some serious physical effects on you. These can go from sweating, uncontrollable shaking, nausea, sensations of shortness of breath, feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or even fainting, feelings of choking or even chest pain.

• Trauma – This can lead to so many things, not only anxiety. Going through a traumatic experience changes your whole life and even your perception of life.

• Difficulty concentrating – Emotional distress can cause concentration problems due to overthinking and paranoia.

• Fear of dying – A lot of people are scared of dying and that’s completely normal, but when you start having this constant fear of dying on a daily basis and when you think that everything you do can end up having this sort of effects on you, then that should be an alarming factor regarding your emotional state.

Note: I am not a psychologist nor an expert on mental healthy These are only some of the most common signs and symptoms. There is a wide list of other symptoms that you may be experiencing as well.

When to Seek Help?

when to seek help regarding anxiety

You don’t need to be experiencing any of these symptoms to conclude that you need professional help. We all need to talk to someone regardless of what you’re going through. But, if you’re looking for a good start point on when to take action, then I might say that when your symptoms start getting more severe.

Despite how long you’ve realized you were experiencing symptoms if you ever feel like your emotions are interfering with your life, you should seek professional help.

After doing some research, I came across the standards you’ll need for a professional to diagnose you with anxiety. To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a combination of symptoms must be a constant on most days of your everyday life for more than six months and interferes with your ability to function at work or at home. Anxiety can be debilitating and exhausting thus it is really important to seek help. There are a lot of effective treatments that work wonderfully and can ease your anxiety even if it’s for a bit. Start little by little and you will start feeling better with your mental state.

Note: Anxiety is not something that can go away with some pills and therapy. You need constant resources to help you get through. You will still have anxiety but it won’t be as draining as it usually is for you.

If you have any questions or would like to share your experience, please don’t hesitate and leave a comment down below.

28 thoughts on “Signs And Symptoms Of An Anxiety Disorder – The Basics”

  1. What funny about anxiety (though it is not funny) is that you have it most of the time you are not aware of it. Even people around you tell you that you have it most likely you will refuse or ignore. I know it because I do have anxiety. 

    I live in NYC so anxiety and panic attack are very common here. I love your note, that is the honest truth anxiety is not something that you can cure. It is something that I live with my whole life.

    As for me I try to eat healthy, go meditate, forgive myself when I make a mistake etc. It is a self reflection workshop and I do learn a lot about myself. 

    I personally think that we are stressed and have the anxiety because we are moving non stop. It is ok to step back and relax a bit 🙂

    1. Anxiety is way more common than what people think. It can also be a trigger for your current situation. Stay safe. You’re doing amazing!

  2. It’s a terrible thing when you allow anxiety to run your life. I know someone who was burying his stress and it manifested into a full blown mock heart attack. I was there, called the ambulance and it was a terrifying event. Nothing was wrong with him except for the way he was thinking about his problems. I also know a lot of people taking medication for anxiety and even though that may be helpful, it is not the solution. Thank you for this great article!

  3. It’s a terrible thing when you allow anxiety to run your life. I know someone who was burying his stress and it manifested into a full blown mock heart attack. I was there, called the ambulance and it was a terrifying event. Nothing was wrong with him except for the way he was thinking about his problems. I also know a lot of people taking medication for anxiety and even though that may be helpful, it is not the solution. Thank you for this great article!

    1. That can be more common than what people think. The amount of stress a person holds can be so damaging to every part of your body. 

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read!

  4. Anxiety is often not given the attention it requires until things escalate and the only visible option for anyone is just to take things exactly the way they appear to be  whenever we see any of these signs, we need to start seeing a doctor or seek for help because, when anxiety grows fully, it becomes really difficult to take any approach towards it. This is very interesting and enlightening. I’d do well to share it out on my Facebook group where we talk about anxiety

    1. I agree with you so much! Anxiety can be so draining and difficult to live with. I really hope you’re managing. All the best for you!

      And also, I’m so deeply thankful with you sharing it. It means a lot. 

      Take care! 

  5. Hello Stephanie,

    This article is really informative. It is a good thing to know when to seek help when our emotions become out of hand and started to interfere with our day today life. As you have mentioned I think that the person who is suffering from anxiety knows that they have anxiety or not. But the problem is they don’t know when to seek help or they assume it will get better with time. Also some people are afraid to let others know that they are having a difficult time. So I think it’s a good thing that you have mentioned when to know we need help from a professional and the face that anxiety is very common among the people these days. 1:13 means that this is not something we should hide out of dear what others might think. It is common and every has first hand or second hand experience with anxiety.

    So all I have to say is that if you are suffering from anxiety, then seek help if it’s needed. Your happiness and peace of mind should come first. If you are not happy you cannot make others happy. So make yourself a priority. Anxiety is common. Don’t hide away out of fear of rejection. You have professionals to help you out anytime. Be happy! 🙂 

    1. Thank you so much for sharing that! Anxiety can really be a dangerous thing to live with. Even if you don’t feel like your symptoms aren’t something to worry about, please don’t let them pass. You can get the necessary help before things escalate. 

  6. It is scary that one could be suffering from anxiety disorder without even knowing it. It is even scarier that the collection of causes are very common. We are always constantly worrying about one thing or the other. I am one person that use the nighttime to think about what I should have said or how I should have handle a situation. I now see how serious these thoughts can get. Thank you for these great insights on what anxiety is and what to look out for in terms of signs.

    1. Even if you think that your overthinking it’s not something to be cautious of, please always keep an eye of what triggers you. Your feelings and emotions are completely valid. 

      Thank you so much for reading! Take care! 

  7. Feeling anxious is some thing,I have experienced and many others that I know of,including family members,I can remember my father having a nervous breakdown when I was a teenager,and having to go into an institution for several weeks for treatment,and as a result having to be returned to the company head office in our home country.

    I have inherited this tendency to worry,and it is something I have to fight against daily,consciously thinking positive thoughts,and rejecting the negative.

    These physical symptoms I can witness with,as my father suffered with nervous dyspepsia,and had to take medication for it for most of his life,I also have experienced,dizziness,and have to take medication for high blood pressure,

    I think that my father suffered from an anxiety neurosis, as the evidence is there,but I think that having watched his suffering, I have learned how to overcome my own problems, before they got out of hand.    

    1. I am so sorry you had to go through that. Having a family member that suffers from a mental illness can be challenging. Specially if you don’t have the tools to help them out. 

      I really hope you’re managing and taking care of yourself!

  8. This is a lot of useful information, is great because people don’t know what cause anxiety. Thanks for all the info. It is good to know.

  9. Interesting post.
    I like how informative this post was and how you broke down all the information.
    Anxiety is more common than most people think it is and can affect so many parts of someone’s life.
    Knowing the symptoms is very important to understanding if someone has an anxiety disorder and what resources could be used to help that person.
    Thanks for all the helpful information!

  10. Dear Stephanie.
    Thank you very much for your fantastic website. It is amazing that you show people where to start and what steps to make towards their healthy living and desirable emotions. I hope more people will know about your website and follow your guidance.
    Kind regards,

  11. I used to have a severe anxiety disorder, and at some point I was almost too afraid to step out of the door as every single panic attack felt like I was going to die. I knew it wasn’t true, but the feeling was so intense. I wanted to do everything to avoid feeling like that. In the end I did get through it very well, I went to a psychologist, I started doing yoga and slowly slowly I felt better again. I have it very rarely now, a panic attack and anxiety is down to a normal level :). Thank you for sharing this article!

  12. I noticed that I stay away from people. I thought to myself as a loner, but now, when I have a baby, I saw that I don’t want to go even to a store anymore. I realize I might have a problem. I don’t want to give this to my baby. I want him to be more social. I am not sure when it started, I was very outgoing, but now I feel a lot better at home, and if I know I will have to go somewhere I get all nervous. I read a lot of books, but maybe it is time that I talk with someone. Thank you for sharing the information.

  13. I have had anxiety on and off throughout my adult life but I didn’t really start to experience significant physical symptoms until recently. Luckily I have been able to curb it by exercising daily but it’s a struggle.
    I didn’t realize there were standards for being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Thanks for the great info.!

  14. I developed anxiety after a series of traumatic events. I was having a hard time dealing with one problem before another cropped up and I got completely overwhelmed. It took me about 3 years to get past my panic attacks and another 2 years to quit the depression and general anxiety. I still have social anxiety, but that is something I have always had but did not realize it had a name.
    I work hard on being more positive, about life and myself. I am more forgiving of myself and kinder when I make mistakes.
    I feel like my anxiety is in the rear view mirror and I am much wiser for it. It is better to deal with everything as quickly as possible, so I have several journals on the go so that I can process my feelings quicker.
    Great post, and thank you!

    1. I am so sorry that you’re going through that, but I am glad to see that you’re finding ways to take care of yourself and your well being. You’re doing amazing and I’m proud of you for taking that step towards healing.

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