Worrying about financial problems, exam or moving to another country is natural. But if worries about and without grow like a snowball, turn into fears, begin to interfere with normal life and cannot be dealt with in any way, it seems that anxiety disorder is developing.
According to WHO, 264 million people in the world have an anxiety disorder (there are more women among them). Fortunately, unlike some other mental illnesses, it can be cured. One of the effective methods is cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, how an anxiety disorder occurs is not completely understood. Various factors influence it: from a genetic predisposition and psychological trauma experienced in childhood to the use of alcohol and certain medications.
With anxiety disorder, people complain about a lot of things: from stomach problems to feelings of impossible fatigue. According to some estimates, the possible symptoms of the disease are of the order of one hundred. We chose the most common of them.
Your anxiety is disproportionate to reason
Increased anxiety differs from ordinary anxiety in that it is intrusive, negatively affects the quality of life and disrupts the daily activities of a person.
In addition, to be considered a sign of a disorder, anxiety should appear regularly for six months and every day it is more difficult to control. Moreover, the level of anxiety does not reflect the severity of the situation that caused it.
Strong anxiety is provoked, among other things, by completely ordinary things, for example, an obsessive thought about an iron (which is actually turned off) or pillows that are somehow not properly laid.
You are physically ill
An anxiety disorder has signs associated with a deterioration of not only emotional but also physical condition: dizziness, dry mouth, increased sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, headache.
All these unpleasant symptoms are the result of an overload of the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates respiration, digestion and blood circulation.
Having learned about the danger (the brain does not understand whether it is real or not), the brain prepares the body for a stressful situation – in case a person has to fight or run away. With a real threat, such an organism reaction is really necessary, but with an imaginary one these effects will only do much harm – they will continue to bother until the alarm goes away.
Diagnosing yourself with anxiety disorder based only on these symptoms is a bad idea. They may be symptoms of other diseases, so it is best to consult a doctor and talk about your complaints.
If a specialist determines that nausea, high blood pressure, malaise are not caused by physical health problems, you should consult a psychotherapist.
You get tired quickly
Fatigue is associated with the production of cortisol (the stress hormone) in response to anxiety caused by real or imaginary problems. Cortisol induces the brain to get rid of the source of experiences, but with anxiety disorder it is often not clear what caused anxiety.
Subsequently, the brain gets tired of working under the pressure of this hormone, especially when it happens almost every day, and from this a general feeling of fatigue appears. Theoretically, fatigue may be the result of other symptoms of anxiety disorder – insomnia or muscle tension – but so far, scientists have not found confirmation of this.
Of course, on the basis of fatigue alone, anxiety disorder is not diagnosed, because this is a common symptom of many diseases, including depression and hypothyroidism.
The treatment of all these conditions varies, therefore, the diagnosis should be approached carefully, given the whole complex of complaints and symptoms.
You cannot sit still
Patients describe this state of anxiety as an “irresistible desire to move.” Anxiety disorder is common among children and adolescents, and restlessness is often found in them.
In a study of the behavior of 128 children with this diagnosis, scientists found that 74% of participants were concerned about this symptom. For comparison: abdominal pain occurs in 70% of people, increased sweating – in 45%.
Parents may consider this behavior normal, but if bursts of activity are repeated almost every day for six months, this is an occasion to visit a therapist.
You have trouble concentrating
Have you been complaining about poor concentration for a long time and trying to solve the problem with the help of books on self-development and self-discipline? Surely the authors of such works will say that it is laziness, unwillingness to move forward or dislike of work.
Sometimes good motivation is really good enough for the situation to change – but it can also be an anxiety disorder.
A study of 157 children with increased anxiety found that more than two-thirds of them had difficulty concentrating. In another study, which examined the behavior of 175 adults with anxiety disorder, scientists found that 90% of participants complained of low concentration, and the greater their anxiety, the worse the concentration.
Attacks of anxiety can reduce labor productivity and adversely affect working memory. Working, or operational, memory helps to store information while a person is using it (you need to keep in mind that working and short-term memory are not the same thing).
And, of course, anxiety disorder is not the only reason that prevents you from fulfilling standard tasks at work or remembering who you just called. Problems with memory and concentration are also considered signs of attention deficit disorder and depression.
You are annoy
Annoyance arises from the fact that the nervous system becomes hypersensitive to everything that happens, and not because you have a bad character.
A sharp reaction to things that would not have unsettled you before is a characteristic sign of increased anxiety. In a study last year, it turned out that more than 90% of 6166 participants felt extreme hot temper during periods of exacerbation of the disease.
Controlling emotions is difficult, but you can try to learn this. Take a deep breath and analyze what annoys you or under what circumstances it happens.
Take time out or limit communication with a trigger person – this will help prevent sudden mood swings. And if anxiety disorder is the basis of irritability, then this symptom must pass as it is treated.
Your muscles are constantly tense
Muscle tension as a symptom of anxiety disorder is poorly understood. But why it occurs, it is known: the body reacts to stress by muscle contraction, preparing for any development of events (suddenly you have to run). In the event of an anxiety disorder, you don’t have to run anywhere, but your muscles remain tense.
It manifests itself in different ways: compression of the jaw or fists, muscle pain, cramps, clamps. Sometimes discomfort comes to the fact that a person cannot get out of bed and to ease the situation you need to take medication.
According to Sally Winston, doctor of psychological sciences and co-director of the Institute of Anxiety and Stress Disorders (Maryland, USA), physical activity helps control muscle tension.
The main thing in this matter is regularity, otherwise it will become more difficult to cope with new bouts of anxiety and pain. Relaxation methods also help reduce muscle tension – for relaxation therapy, in general, it has been shown to be effective in treating anxiety disorder.
You sleep badly
It is not unusual to toss and turn midnight before a responsible performance or appointment to a new position. But if this happens again and again – including for no apparent reason – you are likely to have anxiety disorder.
Most often, people with this diagnosis complain that they fall asleep badly or wake up in the middle of the night. In the morning they get up broken and, not having time to get out of bed, they only think about how to go to bed as soon as possible – and so on in a circle.
Scientists have repeatedly stated the connection between insomnia and anxiety disorder. It is not yet clear what is the cause and what is the consequence. Most likely, they affect each other, that is, a disorder causes insomnia and vice versa.
So, a study was carried out at King’s College London – it turned out that insomnia in childhood provokes the development of the disorder in the future. Not only is sleep disturbance dangerous: according to the American Association for the Study of Anxiety and Depressive Disorders, this problem can lead to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.
But there is a solution: for example, cognitive-behavioral therapy helps to get rid of anxiety disorder and insomnia, as Canadian scientists say.
You are scared
Phobia is a separate type of anxiety disorder. This is an irrational fear of specific objects or situations, such as snakes (herpetophobia) or flying on an airplane (aerophobia).
If fear becomes overwhelming, destructive, and disproportionate to actual risk, this is a clear sign of a phobic disorder. A person understands that there are no objective reasons to be afraid, but he cannot control himself.
Phobias complicate and spoil life, often influencing choices: for example, because of a fear of flying, a person refuses to travel to countries where he wants to visit, or spends a weekend watching TV and not in the woods with friends, afraid of insects.
Another phobia is distinguished into a separate type of anxiety disorder – fear of society or social anxiety disorder. With this disease, people are afraid that others may condemn, humiliate, reject or negatively evaluate their actions, feel anxiety or fear of events where there will be many guests, or even avoid them.
Being in public, a person with a social phobia worries about every step and word, starts to blush, stammer – and feels even worse due to the fact that the situation cannot be controlled.
Sociophobia is a fairly common problem. In America alone, 15 million people have it, but few of them seek professional help.
You are a perfectionist
Making mistakes, analyzing, trying to avoid them in the future and moving on is normal. Condemning, scolding yourself, being afraid not to meet someone’s standards and expectations, no.
The pursuit of excellence through self-flagellation poses problems with emotional health: scientists have already established a link between perfectionism and anxiety disorder, where the disease is a consequence.
Perfectionists are convinced that everything must be ideal – this applies not only to personal and professional qualities, but to any trifles: from polished tiles to a creak in the bathroom to books placed alphabetically on a shelf.
But usually the result does not bring pleasure, a person begins to reproach himself for what he could do better – and he undertakes to redo everything, not understanding how and when to stop.
The doctor of psychological sciences Kataria Mokru in this case advises setting a timer for two hours – when they expire, stop, no matter how you feel and how well you completed the task.
Try this life hack first at home, and then at work – so you will not only save time, but also control your actions.