Can’t stop overthinking? Feeling tired all the time?
You may be showing subtle signs of anxiety.
But fret not—you aren’t alone, and anxiety is not untreatable.
In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety worldwide.
Research also estimates that 31% of all adults (that’s almost 1 in 3 people) will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
Understanding anxiety and its effects
Anxiety manifests in a combination of physical, psychological and behavioral symptoms that makes every individual’s experience different.
There are several types of anxiety disorders that one might suffer from, the most common being generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias.
Studies have suggested that anxiety may also increase the risk of long-term physical health problems like heart disease and digestive issues.
Unfortunately, a large number of people do not get treated, since the signs and symptoms of anxiety aren’t always that clear.
How do you know if you have anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal emotion that arises as a result of us experiencing stressful or dangerous situations.
Many of us know this as the “fight or flight” response, and it’s especially important in protecting us from imminent danger.
However, feeling an occasional anxiousness in response to stressful situations is not the same as suffering from anxiety.
1. You are always worrying about something.
Do your worries feel bigger than the actual problem?
Does a fleeting thought develop into an overwhelming wave of negativity that you can’t seem to control?
If you suffer from anxiety, you probably dwell on the worst-case scenarios and it may be difficult to put things into perspective.
For example, breaking up can be extremely stressful, but it’s probably not going to cost you your life.
Try looking at the bigger picture: what advice would you give to yourself as an outsider?
2. You find it hard to concentrate.
A common symptom across those with anxiety disorders is having difficulty in concentrating.
Completing daily tasks or being productive at work can be a challenge when your brain is often in “overdrive” mode.
3. You experience panic attacks.
Anxiety can affect us physically, too.
It is not uncommon for people with anxiety to experience panic attacks.
This is characterized by an overwhelming sensation of fear, accompanied with symptoms such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and chest tightness.
If this has happened to you more than once, you may want to consider talking about it to someone you trust or seeking professional help.
Keeping it to yourself may actually stress you out more and worsen the situation. *Welp*
4. You are easily agitated.
Given that anxiety is driven by our autonomic nervous system, people with anxiety often experience mood swings, especially when the anxiety is at its peak.
You might find yourself snapping back at others, even if they haven’t said or done anything wrong.
This may be more obvious to the people around you than yourself, so if your friends describe you as being “on edge”, don’t be too quick to dismiss them.
5. You’re tired ALL the time.
Anxiety is associated with hyperactivity and arousal, so even the smallest thing can snowball into a huge problem.
For example, a casual remark from a friend could trigger intense feelings of helplessness or confusion within you.
Constantly overthinking and experiencing a whirlwind of emotions is mentally draining for anyone.
If you catch yourself feeling tired most of the time despite having enough sleep, observe if your thoughts and feelings have anything to do with it.
6. You have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Daily activities and work help to keep us occupied in the day, but we’re often alone with our thoughts right before bedtime.
When your mind latches onto a specific train of thought and refuses to let go of it, you may end conjuring a downward spiral of worst-case scenarios.
It’s hard to ascertain whether insomnia is causing the anxiety or the other way around, but either way, it isn’t healthy for your mind or body.
7. You avoid uncomfortable situations.
The thought of awkward situations like meeting new people may make your stomach churn with anxiousness.
Although you may not show signs of distress on the outside, you can’t stop worrying and feel a need to disappear right back into your comfort zone.
8. You worry about your worrying.
Yes, it’s possible to have anxiety about having anxiety. Your life is full of “what ifs”—and you’re sick of it.
How To Keep Calm and Carry On
Anxiety can happen to anyone—even the most “perfect” or “successful” people.
It is not incurable and can improve with the right treatment.
If more than one of the above symptoms of anxiety sound familiar to you, don’t be afraid to seek treatment or to consult an expert.
In the meantime, there are plenty of ways to lessen anxiety, such as eating a healthy diet and practicing yoga, deep breathing and mindfulness.
Focus on the things that bring meaning into your life, surround yourself with nurturing people and distance yourself from toxic relationships.
Instead of forcing yourself to stop worrying altogether, work on the things that you can control—like self love and self care.
Remember: Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.