4 Signs that you might have an anxiety disorder
Updated: Nov 22, 2019
“Oh my gosh, I’m so anxious today!”
That can mean different things to different people. If you have a big event coming up or an exam, you’re likely to feel anxious, and that’s perfectly normal. When there is no big event, you’re just your normal self.
If you wake up feeling anxious for no apparent reason and can’t stop thinking, can’t stop your mind from racing and your heart fluttering, that’s another story.
Basically, feeling anxious every once in a while and having an anxiety disorder are two very different things.
When you have an anxiety disorder, you can become fixated on a thought or feeling that leads you down a rabbit hole of anxious thoughts. Welcome to the vicious circle: I’m worried about being anxious (yes, that’s a thing).
While there are different types of anxiety disorders, a common thread between them all is that they interfere with your daily life. Here are four signs that may signal you are dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Your Anxious Thoughts Don’t Go Away
When you have an anxiety disorder, you often become incredibly anxious in situations where others might only get a little anxious, like during family gatherings.
Take an example like the family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Anxious thoughts may run through your head as the date approached. I hope I won’t burn the turkey. Is uncle Dennis going to fight with aunt Laura like they did like year? What if I forget something? My god, I’ll never be ready!
If you cannot think about anything else, day and night; if you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it, that starts to look a lot like an anxiety disorder. Then you start feeling physically sick just thinking about that day. And after the day’s gone, you continue to think about all the things that could have gone wrong, what could have gone better, what you think you should have done.
When your anxious thoughts start to impact your daily life, that's when it becomes an issue.
Your Anxiety Manifests Itself Physically
If your anxious thoughts are accompanied by physical conditions, like restlessness, fatigue, and muscle pain, among others, it could signal that you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can lead to a wide variety of gastrointestinal issues, like heartburn, bloating, cramping, and even diarrhea. Oh joy!
These physical symptoms are as a result of your body being in a constant heightened state of anxiety.
You Can’t Focus
It isn't that uncommon for people who have a general anxiety disorder to be mistakenly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because when you have an anxiety disorder, you tend to have difficulty focusing. When you're always anxious, you tend to be in your head constantly and can get distracted by the negative thoughts and obsessions rattling around in your head. To an outsider, it looks like you have ADHD.
Remember that Anxiety is a lot more common than ADHD, so before jumping to the conclusion that you have ADHD, considering more common mental issues are always a god idea.
You Have Trouble Sleeping
The anxiety that you experience tends to take your thoughts on a ride that leaves you struggling to catch some zzz’s. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), some level of sleep disruption is present in almost all mental disorders, including anxiety.
Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep because you just can’t stop thinking or difficulty staying asleep (yes, thoughts can wake you up in the middle of the night), these are almost always signs of a mental struggle.
If you have more than one of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder. However, before you jump to any conclusions, it’s best to speak with your doctor to rule out any other conditions, because anxiety symptoms often mimic other medical conditions. Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be treated so that you can learn to manage your symptoms and get back to living your life.