Anxiety is a strange, confusing, and tough beast. It’s often hard to explain to those who don’t understand or suffer from it, and it can be incredibly wide-ranging and encompass all sorts of feelings and emotions. What’s the difference between being anxious and having an anxiety disorder? Am I just worrying or am I showing symptoms? What can I do to help myself? Let’s try to answer some of these questions.
Everyone worries, and that’s okay. It’s a natural, human response to worry from time to time and shows that we’re having good emotional responses to events. What isn’t good, however, is constantly worrying about everything that goes on in your life. Those who worry too much typically suffer from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). If your constant worrying has lasted for more than six months, to the point where it has daily consequences on your health and interrupts your life, then it’s more than likely you are suffering from GAD.
2. Sleep issues
While also a huge factor in regard to depression, an anxiety disorder can also cause major sleeping issues too. If you lay awake at night, worried about the day ahead, focusing on something you did a long time ago, or stressing over things at work or home, then you might be suffering from anxiety. Rumination, the process of thinking about something over and over again, can be an awful habit that keeps us awake. Speak to your GP if you recognise this symptom.
Black and white decisions are the easiest to make, it’s when we see those shades of grey that the doubt begins to appear. Self-doubt can creep into all aspects of your life, from doubting your own talents, to your own feelings, and even on to the feelings of others. “What if they don’t feel the same way about me?”, “Did I do something to upset them?”, “Should I say something to make sure or will be persistence in needing to know only annoy them more?”. It’s these types of questions and more that will go through our minds at a hundred miles per hour and make us questions ourselves. We often ask ourselves questions that have no determined answer and fixate on trying to find one, which only leads down a path of negativity. The uncertainty is incredibly unpleasant.
Anxiety doesn’t just foster during big events or meetings, it can crop up during the simplest of social interactions. One-on-one conversations at parties or gatherings can be hard, trying to think of things to say can be stressful. Those suffering from social anxiety disorder (SAD) will start to feel sweaty, start to tremble, or even feel sick. Often these people will blush (please don’t point this out!) and find it difficult to talk or say anything because they feel as if all the pressure is on them. Because of this it can be hard to make friends at school or work, or even maintain relationships. SAD can have a huge impact in later life, so if you recognise these symptoms, seek guidance.
Hypersensitivty is when specific or loud noises cause you to become emotional and distressed. Big and loud social events are often a major source of this reaction and they can be tough to enjoy if you’re not prepared or if you don’t have a friend to help you through it. Hypersentivity is often a stepping stone to an anxiety or panic attack.
Anxiety had plagued me throughout my life since primary school, even when I knew the answer to a teacher’s question, I’d never put my hand up because the fear of being wrong was too much to bear. I’ve experienced all these symptoms at some point in my life, and there are so many more than the ones listed. We all have different ways of coping and getting through our anxiety, so if you have a friend who you know suffers from it, ask them what you can do to help and make them feel more comfortable.
If you recognise these symptoms but haven’t been diagnosed, talk to your doctor or GP and see what help is available to you. You should consider how much anxiety if affecting the areas of your life, how long your feelings last, what causes it, and especially the effects is has on you. Take that information and give it to a professional. Not everyone needs medication as I do, often we just need to be taught mindfulness and how to straighten our thoughts out.