10 Signs You May Have General Anxiety Disorder

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We all get nervous sometimes.

For instance, waiting for medical results like those that can detect whether we have a thyroid problemis completely nerve-wracking. So is speaking in front of an audience, confronting someone about a problem, or even going on a date.

But for many of us,once we tackle these difficult situations, our nerves calm and we can happily go on with our lives.

However,for 6.8 million Americans with an anxiety disorder, forgetting about problems isnt so easy. The most common form of this illness is called generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, and it is characterized by excessive worry about everyday life even when there is little to no reason to worry.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, sufferers arent even aware that they have the ailment, which also affects more women than men.

I always thought I was just a worrier, says an anonymous patient who worked with NIMH. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. Id worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldnt let something go.

Does this sound like something you or possibly a loved one may have? Check out the symptoms below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Anxiety Symptom #1: Excessive Worry


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

We all worry about things like a health, money, and family problems. But people with an anxiety disorder are extremely worried about theseandother things, even when there is no reason to worry about them.

They think things are always going to go badly and getting through a typical day is an upward battle. Sometimes this even prevents them from doing everyday tasks.

You continually anticipate bad things happening to you that can range from missing work deadlines to dying in a natural disaster, says Doctor of Psychology Deborah Khoshaba. You most likely try to ward off bad things from happening to you, by exercising a lot of control over your daily life and by engaging in other maladaptive strategies to manage the anxiety that you feel.

If people often refer to you as neurotic, high-strung, or a perfectionistic, there is a chance you may have GAD.

Anxiety Symptom #2: Muscle Tension


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Anxiety is not just a mental issue. If you have a disorder, your anxiety can be so intense that it can quite evenhave a physical effect on your health.

In fact, according to published psychologistsCatherine C. Goodman and Kenda S. Fuller,anxiety increases muscle tension. This increase in tension can reduce blood flow and oxygen to the tissue and in turn cause a buildup of cellular metabolites.

For instance, if your jaw often feels swore or tense, it could be a sign of a much bigger issue.

Anxiety Symptom #3: Headaches


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Headaches are a result of muscle tension, so if you are getting intense headaches that develop in areas where you can strain your face muscles like around the temples or behind one eye or ear its a good indicator that you may have GAD.

If fact, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, migraine headaches can act as alarm bells for the onset of a mental disorder.

Researchers found that 11 percent of participants in the study had migraines and a variety of disorders: major depression, general anxiety disorder (GAD), dysthymia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, panic disorder, substance abuse disorders, agoraphobia, and simple phobia.

Anxiety Symptom #4: Difficulty Concentrating


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

When one tries to concentrate when they have anxiety, they often suffer from something called rapid thoughts.

Rapid thoughts are actually another type of anxiety symptom, according to the Calm Clinic.They are caused by your body becoming overly activated to the point where it starts processing all thoughts as rapidly as possible, only to end up focusing on nothing at all.

When rapid thoughts start to pop into someones brain while theyre trying to focus, they have to use even more mental energy to drive them out, which can make a simple task feel really exhausting.

Another tactic some people with anxiety use to cope is distraction. In situations where someone may feel anxious, like at work, theyll try to escape their problems by browsing the Internet to calm and get their mind off of situations that make them nervous.

Yet, this strategyprevents them from actually getting anything done.

Anxiety Symptom #5: Sweating


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

You may get sweaty palms before a job interview or feel a drop trickle down your back before having to speak publicly.

This kind of perspiration, provoked by nervousness, is actually different from the kind of sweat you get from exercise or heat.

Sweat from being overheated is produced by eccrine glands, which are located just under the skin all over the body, says theWall Street Journal.But sweat caused by stress, fear, anxiety and sexual arousal is produced in the apocrine glands, found only in certain areas, such as under the arms.

Ifyou tend to break out in nervous sweats on your palms or under your armpits, it is suggested you visit the doctor.

Anxiety Symptom #6: Nausea


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

According to WebMD, nausea that is not provoked by a stomach virus is often linked to anxiety, varying from social and performance anxiety to fear, stress, and over excitement.

Our lives are filled with emotions, from anger to shame, fear to delight, Tracy A. Dennis, PhD, associate professor in the department of psychology at Hunter College, told WebMD. These physiological and neuroendocrine changes associated with emotion influence all aspects of our body, including the digestive system.”

If you tend to experience nausea often, especially when youre stressed, it is advised that you tell a doctor. But, for a quick fix, try deep breathing. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, then another. Inhale and exhale slowly. Repeat until your stomach begins to feel better.

Anxiety Symptom #7: Frequent Bathroom Breaks


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Do you feel like you need to use the bathroom all the time?
Do you worry about how often you need to use it?
Do you fearneeding to use the bathroom when there may not be one available, like while on a bus or before a movie?
Do you oftenfeel like you have to use the bathroom, but nothing comes out?

If these kinds of scenarios happen to you often, it can be an indicator of anxiety. While digestive problems are hard to pin down without the help of a doctor, you digestive system is very delicate.

Bowel problems are a common problem with anxiety, according toCalm Clinic. As the stress from anxiety alters hormones, changes digestion speeds, and puts significant pressure on your intestines.

Anxiety Symptom #8: Trouble Sleeping


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

If youre experiencing bathroom troubles and rapid thoughts, its no wonder youd have difficulty falling and staying asleep and that you would develop anxiety around bedtime.

The more anxious [you] are about sleep, that undermines the ability to sleep well, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, says David Neubauer, MD, an associate director at the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center in Baltimore, MD.

Sleep is important if you want to be emotionally healthy. If you cant remember the last time you had a full nights sleep, you may want to talk to a doctor.

Anxiety Symptom #9: Trembling


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

Trembling is also a sign of an anxiety disorder especially if trembling occurs in situations of high stress and continues even after you have attempted to calm the stress.

The reason why you may experiencethe shakes? Its a spike in adrenaline.

Anxiety is the activation of your fight or flight response to danger, even when no danger is present, says Calm Clinic. The response triggers a rush of adrenaline, which feeds your body with energy and prepares you to run or fight. It also constricts your blood vessels and feeds your nerves. All of these cause your body to start shaking.

Anxiety Symptom #10: Easily Startled


LittleThings / Maya Borenstein

According to WebMD, being startled easily is one of the biggest symptoms of GAD, and being jumpy does seem like a normal response to other symptoms like tiredness, rapid thoughts, headaches, and constant worry.

If you find yourself on edge often, maybe its not so much your personality,” but rathera sign that there is something much more complex at play.

If you get frightened easily and think you may have an anxiety disorder, its also important to recognize the signs of a panic attack.

Those who are suffer from GAD often experience panic attacks, which can be a confusing and scary experience. It can also happen suddenly and without warning.

Because a panic attack can resemble othermedical emergencies, its important to know the signs, which we’ve explained on Page 2.

Click “Next” to learn how to identify a panic attack.

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