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.
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?
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.