Everyone gets anxious from time to time—from worrying about an interview or presentation you have coming up to fretting over a text you sent, to simply just sitting on the couch thinking about all the things you have to do.
So then how do you know if what you’re experiencing is just regular anxiety, and how do you know when it’s actually an anxiety disorder?
It’s tricky, but typically, you can tell if it’s an anxiety disorder is when you experience excessive worrying, and when that constant worrying starts interfering with your daily life. This is a hallmark sign of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), a common anxiety disorder, which occurred in about 2.7% of adults in the US just this past year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.
What’s more, about 5.7% of adults in the U.S. will experience GAD at some time in their lives. While GAD occurs predominately in females, men are also susceptible to the disorder. Additionally, many times, GAD develops alongside other anxiety or mood disorders, like depression.
Do you have an anxiety disorder?
You may have an anxiety disorder if you’re experiencing these common symptoms (and likely even more so if these symptoms have been continuous for six or more months):
Persistent, uncontrollable worry.
As mentioned, it’s normal to feel anxious when you’re about to endure a stressful activity. But the clincher here is when you’re constantly feeling the weight of the world, no matter what the situation. Additionally, you probably find that you can’t control your feelings either. For example, even if you’re worried about a task, and you complete said task, you might find you’re still anxious and feel like you can’t help it.
Whether it’s about what you said in that last group text (that no one answered) or how you acted during happy hour with your coworkers last week, you find your brain won’t shut down. You’re just constantly thinking and ruminating. Worse, you revisit all the possible worst-case outcomes of these situations and just let them brew in your mind, over and over again.
When you have anxiety disorder, it’s not just in your head; your body can react just as well. (Think of how you sweat or your tummy rumbles when you have to go up on stage in front of a crowd). “Muscle tension, sleep disturbance, difficult concentrating or your mind going blank, increased irritability—those are all accompanying symptoms in addition to just being worried and anxious,” says Clinical Psychology, Kevin Chapman.
Ever feel like you can’t make decisions? Constantly going, “No, you pick the restaurant,” or going back and forth on pain colors…for days and weeks and months? Indecisiveness typically stems from fear of making the wrong decision, which is a telltale sign of an anxiety disorder.
Signs of anxiety disorders can vary. There are lots of other symptoms that you might experience. If you think you might have GAD or another type of anxiety disorder, this video below highlights several other signs and symptoms that signal an anxiety disorder, as well as treatment options. Check it out below!
Do you or someone you have an anxiety disorder? How do you or did they find relief?