Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder You May Not Know
We all know that stressful situations like exams and job interviews trigger mild anxiety in us. It is our body’s way of preparing us to face those upcoming events by keeping us alert all the time. Mild anxiety during these stressful events is normal, but it is problematic when anxiety symptoms occur often, and are intense which interfere with daily life. If you are unable to perform daily tasks due to fear and anxiety, check with your mental health professional as this indicates symptoms of anxiety disorder. Read further to understand what is anxiety, symptoms of anxiety disorder and how anxiety symptoms in women are different.
What Is Anxiety?
People with anxiety disorder often feel overwhelmed with fear or worry which causes them to avoid situations that trigger them. Anxiety disorders are real problems that tremendously affect a person’s thoughts, behaviours and body.
Anxiety disorders contribute to non-fatal health loss. In 2015, WHO reported that almost 38,425,093 people in India were diagnosed with anxiety disorder. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the worldwide estimate of anxiety disorder is 374 million people.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder:
What Physical Symptoms Can Anxiety Cause?
The physical symptoms of anxiety disorder are more often confused with physical symptoms of severe underlying disease. For example, chest pain and breathlessness could be due to anxiety, but they are often mistaken for heart attack. Here are some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorder:
● Faster breathing, Chest pain, Increased heart rate: Anxious feelings trigger the release of stress hormones that act on the same brain areas that also control heart functions. This shows up in the form of symptoms like chest pain, rapid heart rate and breathing rate.
● Dizziness: Crowded places like grocery stores, malls or wide-open spaces can sometimes cause discomfort and a sense of imbalance. Dizziness due to anxiety feels like a spinning sensation from within rather than the surrounding.
● Sweating and shaking: Anxiety makes your sympathetic nervous system work overtime that presents symptoms like excessive sweating and trembling.
● Hair loss: Short-term or long-term stress could be a primary cause of hair loss. Stress or anxiety could lead to the release of cortisol hormone that contributes to hair loss.
● Headache, Muscle tension, tiredness, insomnia: When you have anxiety, your brain activates the sympathetic nervous system. This is a form of coping mechanism where your sympathetic nervous system works non-stop to deal with the perceived threats. While this works temporarily, it creates a problem when the sympathetic nervous system becomes underactive after a certain period.
Underactive sympathetic nervous system makes you weak and causes headaches, muscle tension, joint pain, tingling in the hands and feet and other neurological problems.
● Upset stomach: Do not mistake the feeling of “butterflies in the stomach” as excitement or happiness when there is no reason to be excited. Sometimes these butterflies also indicate that you have stomach problems like indigestion. Anxiety and worry disturb the natural balance of the stomach contents. In some people, it causes bloating, constipation and pain, while in others, it causes diarrhoea.
Emotional Anxiety Symptoms:
● Fear and worry: Are you always alert, anticipating the worst to happen even if there are no possible signs of danger? Do you constantly worry about mundane things that usually don’t bother others in the same way?. It could be one of the anxiety symptoms that need to be addressed.
● Inability to relax: Do you feel it is impossible to feel relaxed? Anxiety disorders can make you restless and irritable all the time.
● Avoidance of challenging situations: This involves avoiding any place, situation or doing tasks that could trigger your feelings of anxiety. For example, if you had a prior bad experience with driving, you avoid driving altogether. If you find yourself going out of your way to avoid inevitable challenging situations, it's the right time to check with your mental health professional.
● Isolation: People with social anxiety disorder feel anxious about things that other people would not be bothered about. Some examples are feeling of being ‘watched’ while eating a meal, meeting strangers, fear of being judged negatively. These anxious feelings make them isolated from the outer world.
● Poor sleep: People with anxiety will feel really hard in organizing their thoughts and feelings, and it becomes difficult for them to ‘shut down’ their brain at night. This results in sleep disturbances or no sleep at all.
● Overthinking and Trouble concentrating: Do you have a tough time focusing on one thing for a long time? Does your mind go blank at times?
Anxiety disorder will make you live in constant fear, long-term panic and uncontrollable worry. You might be thinking of things that happened in the past or those that may or may not happen in the future. This hinders your ability to take calculated risks because your quality of thinking and decision making is adversely affected.
● Problems with work, social or family life: Everyone experiences problems with their work, social or family once in a while, and it is a normal occurrence. But the same issues give way to unrealistic feelings that stop one from living an everyday life if they have an anxiety disorder.
● Alcohol or drug abuse: Most often, anxiety disorders are accompanied by other mental health disorders like alcohol or drug abuse. People indulge in these habits to feel ‘relieved’ and ‘better’ only to end up in more misery and trigger thoughts.
Thoughts That Occur Due To Anxiety:
These are the thoughts that frequently occur in the minds of people with anxiety:
- “Something wrong is about to happen.”
- “This worry is going to make me go crazy.”
- “I can never trust people.”
- “I am not safe.”
- “I escaped from an accident once, I cannot be lucky the second time.”
Anxiety Symptoms In Women: Are Women More Prone To Anxiety?
Do you know that anxiety symptoms in women are different from that of men? In fact, anxiety symptoms are more intense in women than men. This can be attributed to various changes that occur in a woman’s lifespan like puberty, menstrual cycles, pregnancy, postpartum changes, and menopause. Although these are natural body processes, the hormone functions become erratic during each phase, triggering anxiety.
Stress is another factor that causes more anxiety in women than men. Women are more likely to experience stress in their childhood due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect. These childhood traumas are more likely to cause anxiety in women that continues in their adulthood.
Common Anxiety Symptoms In Women:
Though anxiety disorders are equally damaging for all genders, anxiety symptoms show up differently in women. Following is a list of symptoms faced by women due to anxiety:
- Stomach problems: nausea, eating problems and stomach pain.
- Rapid heart rate during stressful situations.
- Tiredness, lethargy or weakness
- Difficulty focusing
- Panicking and constantly feeling something might go wrong
- Sleeping issues
- Sweating and shaking.
Never Let Anxiety Control You:
Some people are totally aware that their fears are irrational and unreasonable. But they have a hard time coping with it. Pay close attention to symptoms of anxiety disorders. If you or somebody you know is experiencing anxiety symptoms, contact your mental health professional immediately, since untreated anxiety disorder could lead to anxiety attacks.