Anxiety is a mental health disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It can manifest in various forms, such as social anxiety, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder. Anxiety can impact all aspects of life, from work to relationships.
The signs and symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person and can change throughout your life. It’s important to recognize the signs of anxiety so that you can seek help if needed.
General Signs of Anxiety
Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, or fear that are strong enough to interfere with daily activities.
If you’re worried that you or someone you love has an anxiety disorder, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional to discuss the options.
Signs of anxiety usually fall into five categories:
- Psychological. Psychological symptoms of anxiety include excessive worry, fear, and negative thinking patterns.
- Emotional. Emotional signs include feelings of tension, nervousness, and irritability.
- Physical. Physical anxiety symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling, and stomachaches.
- Behavioral. Behavioral anxiety symptoms include avoidance behaviors, such as avoiding certain situations or people that trigger anxiety, restlessness, and difficulty sitting still.
- Social. Social signs include difficulty forming and maintaining relationships and avoiding social situations due to feelings of anxiety.
It’s important to note that these symptoms may vary from person to person. Some people may experience different symptoms than others. Also, some people may have mild symptoms, while others may have severe symptoms that interfere with daily life.
Age and Gender-Specific Anxiety Indicators
Anxiety manifests itself in various ways among people, but it also may differ depending on the person’s age or gender. While these signs may be present, not having them doesn’t indicate that anxiety isn’t an issue.
Signs of Anxiety in Children
Children are less likely to have the language necessary to communicate their feelings to adults around them, so their anxiety may manifest in the following ways:
- Frequent crying or tantrums
- Difficulty sleeping
- Physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches
- Complaints of fatigue
- Difficulty making friends or participating in group activities
- Physical symptoms such as nausea or vomiting
Signs of Anxiety in Teens
Teenagers can also experience anxiety, and the signs may differ from adults. Teens may also have a difficult time communicating what’s going on with them. They just know that they don’t feel well or right. Some signs of anxiety in teenagers may include:
- Irritability or Restlessness. Teenagers may become easily frustrated or agitated and have difficulty sitting still or relaxing.
- Difficulty Concentrating. Anxiety can make it difficult for teens to focus on schoolwork or other tasks. This difficulty may mirror an attention disorder.
- Physical Symptoms. Teenagers may experience headaches, stomachaches, or muscle tension due to anxiety.
- Changes in Sleep Patterns. Anxiety can cause insomnia, nightmares, or difficulty falling or staying asleep.
- Avoiding Social Situations. Teenagers may avoid social activities or gatherings due to feelings of anxiety.
- Poor Academic Performance. Anxiety can affect a teenager’s ability to learn and retain information. It may lead to academic performance below what the teen is capable of or a noticeable decline in academic performance.
Signs of Anxiety in Women
Women are more likely to have anxiety disorders, according to some research. But this increased likelihood in women may be because men are statistically less likely to seek care or treatment for their anxiety. Disordered eating, such as bulimia or anorexia, is one of the most common signs of anxiety in women.
Signs of Anxiety in Men
Men underreport anxiety. This underreporting may be due to societal pressures on men to be self-reliant and not display signs of vulnerability.
Men may also express their anxiety differently than women, such as through aggression or irritability rather than nervousness.
Men are also more likely to engage in adverse coping methods such as substance use, making it difficult to cope with their anxiety. Men may also have difficulty in their relationships as a result of their anxiety and may struggle to communicate their feelings or form close connections with others.
When Anxiety Leads to a Disorder
Like many other mental health issues, anxiety is likely to progress if you don’t recognize it and work to heal it or get professional assistance in treating it.
Signs that anxiety is progressing include:
- Prolonged Anxiety. If you experience anxiety symptoms for an extended period, it may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.
- Inability to Cope. If your anxiety is overwhelming and you find it difficult to cope with it alone, it may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder.
- Impairs Normal Functioning. If your anxiety impacts your daily life and prevents you from functioning as you want to, it may indicate that you have an anxiety disorder. Issues or concerns can include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, missing school or work, or avoiding social situations.
Beneficial Ways to Cope with Anxiety
You may attempt to cope with or control your anxiety in addition to seeking help from a mental health professional. Various ways of coping with anxiety can be beneficial depending on the individual and their specific needs.
The 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique is a simple and effective way to help manage anxiety in the moment. It involves using your five senses to focus on the present moment and distract yourself from anxious thoughts and feelings.
Here’s how it works:
- Look around you and name five things you can see.
- Name four things you can touch.
- Name three things you can hear.
- Name two things you can smell.
- Name one thing you can taste.
Focusing on the present moment and using your senses can help ground you in reality and reduce feelings of anxiety. Use this method when you feel anxious. You can do it quickly and discreetly. It also can help you avoid or cope with triggers of an anxiety attack.
Situational methods are ways you can respond to feelings of anxiety, depending on the situation you’re in. They include:
- Identifying and Avoiding Triggers. Identifying situations or people that trigger your anxiety and taking steps to avoid or manage them can help to reduce symptoms. Make sure you pay attention to how often you avoid situations to ensure it doesn’t become a negative behavior.
- Planning. Having a plan for dealing with situations that make you anxious can help you feel more in control and reduce anxiety.
Multiple psychological treatments are available for anxiety treatment. They include:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This type of therapy can help you identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to anxiety.
- Exposure Therapy. Gradually exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious in a safe space can help you build confidence and reduce anxiety over time.
Knowledge is power. The more you know about anxiety, how it affects people, and how others cope, the more empowered you’re likely to feel about managing your own symptoms. Education may include:
- Learning about Anxiety. Understanding anxiety and its causes and symptoms can help you identify and better manage anxiety.
- Finding Support Groups. Joining a support group for people with anxiety can provide a sense of community and help you to feel less alone.
Various coping methods may work better for different people. Working with a therapist is vital to find the right treatment plan and approach for you.
Preventing Anxiety from Worsening
In addition to seeking help from a mental health professional, there are many things you can do on your own to help curb your anxiety or perhaps keep it from progressing.
Help control anxiety through:
- Relaxing Activities. Relaxing activities such as yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, or listening to soothing music can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Journaling. Journaling can be a helpful tool in identifying triggers that contribute to your anxiety. Once you know what triggers your anxiety, you can take steps to avoid or manage them.
- Challenging Yourself. Challenging yourself to face your fears and anxiety can help to reduce their power over you. Gradually exposing yourself to the things that make you anxious can help you build confidence and reduce anxiety over time.
- Focusing on Physical Health. Physical health and regular exercise can help reduce anxiety symptoms by releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain.
- Meditating. Meditation, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques can help reduce anxiety by focusing your attention on the present moment and calming the mind.
- Socializing. Socializing and connecting with others can help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can contribute to anxiety.
Knowing When to Seek Help
Knowing when to seek help for anxiety can be difficult, but there are some key factors to consider:
- Identifying Symptom Intensity. If your anxiety symptoms interfere with your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help.
- Understanding Your Skillset. If you have tried coping strategies on your own and they’re not working, or if you are struggling to manage your anxiety, it may be helpful to seek professional help.
- Needing Support for Related Issues. Anxiety can be related to other issues, such as depression, substance use, or trauma. If you identify related issues, it may be helpful to seek professional help to address them.
Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. A therapist or mental health professional can help you develop a plan to manage your anxiety and support your recovery journey. They can help you to identify triggers, develop coping strategies, and work on changing thinking patterns that may contribute to anxiety.
Anxiety Treatment at ILC
At Integrative Life Center, we recognize that your anxiety needs individualized care. We offer programs and services for anxiety treatment to help you heal and move forward with your goals and objectives for recovery.
We offer a variety of treatment options that are suited to all kinds of needs, including:
- Residential Programming
- Partial Hospitalization (PHP) Programming
- Intensive Outpatient (IOP) Programming
- Five Day Trauma Intensives
At ILC, we take great pride in the quality of therapeutic services we offer to people with anxiety and other mental health disorders. If you’re ready to gain control of your anxiety, contact us today!