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Are You Suffering From An Anxiety Disorder? Here’s How To Tell

Anxiety disorders are treatable with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Here's how to tell if you're living with anxiety.

Man holding his head because he is very tired and overwhelmed

We all experience feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear from time to time. Sometimes, anxiety can even be a normal, healthy response to stressful situations. For example, you might worry about an important presentation or lose sleep the night before a job interview. These feelings of anxiety can help you prepare for difficult situations, bringing awareness to the risks involved and triggering your fight-or-flight response.
While it's a normal human response to feel anxious in certain situations, you might have an anxiety disorder if feelings of anxiety or worry interfere with your daily life. Anxiety disorders can keep you on permanent high alert, leaving you feeling panicked and anxious at ordinary, everyday events. Psychologically, they trigger a sense of dread and nervousness. Physically, they speed your heart rate and pulse, making you sweat, shake, or feel dizzy with worry.

Fortunately, anxiety disorders are highly treatable with a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. Here's how to tell if you may be living with an anxiety disorder so you can consider how to best move forward toward managing it.

Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

Teenage girl looking anxious as she stares off to the left at train tracks

If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, it's important to seek professional help. The symptoms of anxiety may not go away on their own, and if left untreated, anxiety can take over your life. In addition, anxiety disorders often co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as major depression and substance use, and they can often make these related conditions worse.

There are several types of anxiety, including:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

When your body's fight-or-flight response is triggered, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger isn't real, these hormones can trigger physical symptoms of anxiety. After the threat is gone, your body will usually return to normal. However, if you have an anxiety disorder, feelings of intense fear and danger persist, interrupting your everyday life long after the threat is gone.

The signs and symptoms of anxiety are different for everyone, and symptoms can vary depending on the exact type of anxiety disorder. For many people, anxiety disorders involve a combination of psychological and physical symptoms. Here are some signs you might be living with a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

  • You constantly feel tired. Sometimes, getting out of bed and going to school can feel exhausting—and that's completely normal. Your body's fight-or-flight stress response can keep you on permanent high alert, which can feel mentally and physically draining. Excessive anxiety can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep, and many people with anxiety experience unsatisfying sleep. Sleep issues, such as insomnia or nightmares, can further exacerbate anxiety symptoms and fatigue.
  • You're sick all the time. When your body's fight-or-flight response is activated for a long time, your immune system stops functioning at its peak potential. As a result, anxiety disorders can make you more susceptible to physical health problems, such as the common cold.
  • Your muscles ache. Your muscles tense up when you're feeling anxious, and tensing your muscles for a long time can lead to chronic pain. Many people with anxiety disorders experience headaches, jaw pain, and tightness in their back, neck, or shoulders. If you're experiencing persistent muscle pain, it's also worth visiting your primary care provider to rule out any physical health conditions.
  • You have trouble controlling your emotions. For individuals with anxiety, emotional responses can be of a much higher intensity than usual. When combined with an increased perception of danger, negative thoughts, and extreme fear, your brain might have trouble effectively regulating your emotions. In turn, you might turn to unhealthy strategies, like avoiding or trying to suppress emotions.
  • You feel overwhelmed. From chest pain to muscle tension, living with the physical symptoms of anxiety can be incredibly draining. It's therefore no surprise that navigating social situations, performing at work or school, and taking care of yourself can feel impossible. If left unchecked, anxiety symptoms can be debilitating, disrupting your ability to cope with stress, maintain relationships, and carry out daily activities.

Contact Us

Whether you're experiencing occasional anxiety or living with intense anxiety symptoms, it's essential to seek professional help. Living with anxiety can feel unbearable and isolating, but it doesn't have to be.

At Charlie Health, we offer virtual intensive outpatient treatment for adolescents, young adults, and their families. Unlike traditional online mental health programs, our high acuity care program focuses on individual talk therapy, group therapy, and family therapy to provide comprehensive mental health support for mental health disorders, substance abuse disorders, and more. Our supportive, licensed therapists and providers are here to listen to your needs, help you explore your treatment options, and start feeling better.

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Reaching out takes courage. We’re here to listen to your needs, answer your questions, and match you with an appropriate treatment plan.

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