7 Warning Signs of Anxiety: Anxiety is a common mental health disorder that has been experienced by many for decades.
Experiencing occasional anxiety is normal, but anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. Our experience with its symptoms is often internally disruptive and invisible to others.
There are times when we hesitate to tell others how we feel because of the stigma or the fear of being judged. Another reason anxiety disorders are left unrecognized and untreated is the false belief that ignoring the feelings of anxiety will go away on its own.
Knowing the 7 warning signs of anxiety can help someone feel better by receiving the treatment they deserve.
What is Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders today, affecting 1 in every 6 Australians meeting the diagnostic criteria.
While occasional stress is a normal response to everyday stressors, several factors contribute to the development of anxiety. These include a family history of mental illness, poor physical health, personality traits, and difficult life experiences.
People with anxiety disorders often experience intense, excessive, and persistent fears even while dealing with everyday situations. This condition often involves repeated episodes of intense fear or worry that can peak within minutes (panic or anxiety attacks).
These feelings are often difficult to control and can last a long time – enough to interfere with your daily activities.
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Other phobia-related disorders
It is important to note that you can have more than one anxiety disorder at the same time.
During moments of high distress, it may seem that the impact of anxiety will never go away. However, research suggests that this condition is manageable by learning the warning signs and applying mental health first aid intervention.
Identifying Signs of Anxiety
Here are 7 warning signs of anxiety to watch out for.
Frequent and excessive worrying is one of the major symptoms of a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
Worrying is the uneasy feeling or being overly concerned about a certain situation or problem. When you worry, your mind and body go into overdrive, mostly focusing on “something bad might happen.”
Excessive worrying can affect your daily life, including your appetite, lifestyle habits, job performance, and relationship with others. Most people who experience this symptom seek relief from harmful lifestyle habits such as cigarette smoking or the use of alcohol and drugs.
Sleepless nights can come and go as quickly as bad days. However, if you find yourself lying in bed feeling restless most days, it could mean that you are experiencing an anxiety disorder.
Trouble sleeping is a warning sign that can vary for each person. Some may wake up every 3 to 4 hours and cannot easily fall back asleep, while others cannot sleep at all due to thoughts running through their mind.
Both situations signal that anxiety is affecting your rest and sleeping patterns.
Lack of focus
Many people suffering from anxiety will have concentration issues or a lack of focus. Health expert says that anxiety, in the long term, can harm your memory and affect your judgment.
Concentration issues can also signify underlying mental health conditions, such as depression.
A person with an anxiety disorder may feel fatigued or easily tired all the time. This warning sign can come as a surprise to many, as there is a misconception that anxiety is linked to hyperactivity.
The fact is anxiety causes a hormonal rush that can leave a person feeling drained or tired. The crash may be temporary and can be fixed with sleep, but the feeling of exhaustion lasts.
Most people suffering from anxiety are highly irritable. Research shows that over 90% of people suffering from this condition are extremely short-tempered, especially during times when anxiety is at its peak.
Excessive fears of things could be a symptom of anxiety. These include but are not limited to heights, enclosed spaces, spiders, darkness, etc.
These fears often develop during teenage or childhood and are more common in women than men. If left unaddressed, these can disrupt your everyday functioning and eventually lead to anxiety or panic disorders.
Avoiding social interaction
It is completely normal to feel nervous in certain social situations. However, for someone with anxiety disorder, everyday interaction may cause significant anxiety due to fear of being scrutinized or judged negatively by others.
The constant fear and anxiety lead to social avoidance, which can affect your relationships, daily routine, school, or other activities that can disrupt your life.
How to Care for Someone Experiencing Anxiety Disorders
Here are some of the dos and don’ts when helping someone with anxiety.
- Learn different types of anxiety, along with their warning symptoms.
- Let the person know you have noticed the ‘signs’ and remind them that you are available anytime they need someone to talk to and listen to.
- Never say words that minimise their feelings, such as ‘try not to think about it,’ ‘you have nothing to be anxious about,’ etc.
- Have regular contact with the person and keep an open line of communication with them.
If you suspect the person has a panic or anxiety attack, mental health first aid advises following the ALGEE method.
- Assess for risk of suicide or harm:
- Listen non-judgmentally
- Give reassurance and information
- Encourage appropriate professional help
- Encourage self-help and other support strategies
Learn Mental Health First Aid
The good news is with the help of mental health first aid (MHFA), recognising the 7 warning signs of anxiety is now better than ever.
Through MHFA, you will develop a better understanding of this mental disorder and treatment options to help someone with anxiety feel better soon.
Mental Health First Aid training will cover topics on different mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, self-harm behaviors, gender identity, oppositional defiant disorder, and more.
The training course will also teach you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental ill-health and let you become a part of a movement that aims to change the culture around mental health.
Get in touch with us today or visit our page for more information.