The word ‘anxiety’ is thrown around a lot these days, and understandably so. It’s a stressful time and a lot of people are feeling anxious. However, there is a difference between feeling anxious and suffering from an anxiety disorder. So… how can you tell the difference?
1. It disrupts your life
Anxiety disorders practically dictate your life. Anxiety itself is usually manageable but anxiety disorders bring about such a force of anxiety, that you can’t function properly in your day-to-day life. That may mean not being able to go to work, not being able to go to school, not being able to travel, and perhaps even not being able to see your friends.
Seemingly trivial tasks, like going to the supermarket, become an enormous challenge, to the point that sometimes it’s easier to just not eat.
People who feel anxious may find it unpleasant, but they are often still able to continue with their lifestyle (especially the fun part). Those with anxiety disorders can’t.
If you find yourself unable to carry out your usual activities, it may be the case that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.
2. You struggle to maintain relationships
Anxiety disorders affect your behaviour. It’s inevitable. That means that your true personality often doesn’t come out when anxious. Because of that, it can cause a slight strain on relationships, whether romantic or platonic.
As well as not being able to express yourself how you may want to, anxiety also leaves you more perceptive to things. If you’re around someone who is sad or angry, you’ll pick up on it, even if they are trying to hide it. That’s what can lead to strain in relationships. That emotion probably has nothing to do with you, but if they don’t want to talk about it, there’s a good chance it’ll play on your mind and heighten the anxiety.
On the same note of anxiety helping with perception, it does often leave you feeling more emotionally vulnerable which may mean that certain things affect you more. For example, if someone says something that isn’t particularly nice or they pull a face, you may find yourself reading into it. You could be completely right, but often it’s just anxiety making you over analyse things. That also causes a strain as it presents some kind of unnecessary conflict between people.
3. Triggers seem ‘unreasonable’
Anxiety is triggered by a perceived threat and extremely stressful situations. Think things like exams, potential job loss, big life changes, flying, bungee jumping, etc. It’s normal to feel some level of anxiety in those times of situations even though it isn’t pleasant.
With anxiety disorders, the triggers are often non-threatening, like sitting in a waiting room or being too close to another person. Those situations shouldn’t trigger anxiety but when they do, that’s usually a clear indication of an anxiety disorder. It just means that your brain is misinterpreting the situation as something that it’s not.
4. Severe physical symptoms
Anxiety isn’t a defined thing. For some, it can mean butterflies in your stomach and for others, it can mean excruciating pain. People who suffer from anxiety disorders often suffer with severe physical symptoms. Take nausea for example. For someone experiencing low levels of anxiety, they may feel a little queasy. For those experiencing high levels of anxiety, nausea means they are unable to do anything and may even vomit. It’s not nice, but sadly it’s true. Physical symptoms are a big indicator of how bad the anxiety is.
5. Feeling restricted
Finally, feeling restricted is a sign of an anxiety disorder. By this, I mean you feel your life options are limited because of anxiety. You may not feel like you can progress or live the life you want to. Worrying about the future is often something that triggers anxiety and anxiety disorders make that a lot more prominent.
If any of those five warning signs apply to you, then be sure to seek professional help. Your doctor can advise you of different treatments and you may be surprised to see how many places have support for those struggling with mental health disorders. Anxiety can be managed and you can live the life you want to. It’s just that you have a slightly more challenging journey than others.