Anxiety disorders affect about 19% of the women and men 18 years and older in the United States, but less than half of them get treatment. Of course, feeling anxious from time to time — especially during and after a pandemic — is part of the normal human experience.
So when does anxiety shift from a normal, passing condition to something that might need treatment? Identifying anxiety disorders in yourself and others can be tricky. However, some telltale signs help differentiate feeling anxious occasionally from an anxiety disorder.
At The Soho Center for Mental Health Counseling in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City, our expert and sensitive counselors help you learn strategies to manage anxiety, so you can live your life fully. We provide in-office as well as teletherapy sessions.
Do you have an anxiety disorder? Following are six telltale signs that you might.
1. You don’t sleep well
Insomnia isn’t just having trouble falling asleep. It’s also characterized by sleeping fitfully, awakening multiple times a night, or waking up too early.
Everyone suffers a poor night of sleep now and then. However, if you chronically feel groggy or ill-rested, anxiety may be affecting the quality of your sleep. Worry and anxiety prevent your brain from turning off to allow you to get the sleep your entire body needs.
2. You’re always tired
Of course, if you aren’t sleeping well, you will probably feel tired during the day. However, even if you think you’re getting a full eight hours of sleep, if you don’t feel refreshed in the morning, anxiety could be the reason.
Unexplained fatigue is often related to anxiety. Feeling anxious is a fight-or-flight response that can create tension in your body, which saps your energy and leads to an overall feeling of malaise.
3. You have digestive issues
Your brain constantly communicates with your gut. When your brain is on high alert, it sends signals to your gut and floods your body with cortisol and adrenaline.
A stressed mind and body can’t enter the “rest and digest” phase that your gastrointestinal tract needs to properly process food. You may experience diarrhea, constipation, or an upset stomach.
4. Your body aches or feels tense
The cortisol and adrenaline that course through your body during fight-or-flight signals your muscles to get ready to move. You may experience tightness in your shoulders or neck, as if you’re under active attack, even if nothing is currently threatening you.
The constant tension in your muscles can also lead to chronic pain. You may experience back pain, joint pain, or even headaches.
5. You avoid social activities
A key sign of anxiety is cutting back on, or even entirely cutting out, social activities — even those you formerly loved. Some forms of anxiety disorder, such as social phobia and agoraphobia, make it difficult or even impossible to leave your house.
If you find yourself canceling appointments or dialing back on time with friends or family, you may have anxiety. Pay attention to how you respond to invitations: If you say no, more than you say yes, it may be time to get help.
6. You find it hard to make decisions
Getting a second opinion is standard when you’re given a medical diagnosis. However, if you chronically need a second opinion or even just somebody else’s insight before you make a decision, you’re probably struggling with anxiety.
Even something as simple as not knowing what to choose from a menu could be related to anxiety. Do you have trouble making decisions and feeling confident in your choices? You may benefit from anxiety therapy.
Anxiety is both common and treatable. Get a precise diagnosis and treatment plan for your anxiety by contacting our friendly team by phone or online form today. You might also benefit from teletherapy sessions.