When most people think of an “anxiety disorder,” they think of someone curled up in a ball, wracked by a panic attack. But not all people with anxiety feel full-blown panic. In fact, many people with anxiety never have intense feelings of nervousness or dread; nor will all people with anxiety experience other common symptoms like nausea, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. These people may not realise they are suffering from an unexpected sign of anxiety. As a result, many people with anxiety go undiagnosed and continue to suffer from anxieties surprising physical and mental effects.
So how do you know if you have anxiety? Check out the three unexpected signs below.
Unexpected Sign of Anxiety 1: Upset Stomach
If you experience stomach pain, cramping, bloating, or difficult bowel movements, you might have anxiety. Don’t be one of those people who spend precious time and money on expensive appointments with nutritionists and gastrointestinal doctors only to be told at the end of all the tests that there is nothing “wrong” with your GI tract. You may not have a clinically defined GI condition, but that doesn’t mean that your upset stomach isn’t being caused by something real: anxiety is one of the most common causes of gastrointestinal issues and can worsen feelings of discomfort and pain.
Unexpected Sign of Anxiety 2: Fatigue
It’s easy to chalk up some feelings of tiredness to not getting enough sleep. But do you still feel tired even after you’ve slept for the minimum recommended six hours? Or do you rely on large amounts of caffeine to get you through your day? If so, you might have anxiety.
Anxiety can make you chronically tired for a number of reasons. One, it prevents you from getting a restful night’s sleep. Someone with anxiety will toss and turn when their body should be resting. Additionally, anxiety can cause stressful dreams and even nightmares, leaving you shaken and scared when you wake up. No one feels good after a night like that. Lastly, anxiety interferes with our natural “stress response.” This is the “fight or flight” that all humans have in them. Evolutionarily, the stress response is extremely beneficial in dealing with real danger, but anxiety makes our stress response go haywire by indicating danger when none is actually present. As a result of this constant high-alert state, your body is depleted of energy and you will feel exhausted.
Unexpected Sign of Anxiety 3: Inability to focus
Having trouble focusing is easy to write off as being caused by a simple lack of effort. You might tell yourself to concentrate exasperatedly, even when you’ve removed all distractions. But try as you might, your mind keeps drifting and your body keeps fidgeting. If you find you have poor concentration, anxiety may be the culprit.
Studies have shown that anxiety impacts people’s short-term memory and concentration. People who suffer from anxiety often describe a feeling of their minds “going blank.” They may read the same passage of text over and over without comprehending, or they may constantly forget things. You can blame this inability to focus on anxiety interfering with the body’s stress response again. Just as being on high-alert drains your body of energy, it also directs your focus away from day-to-day tasks towards a perceived “threat” that doesn’t exist, causing you to have trouble concentrating.
The good news is, if you figure out that you suffer from anxiety, there are a number of treatment options available that will bring both short- and long-term relief. Depending on your specific symptoms, you may find calming activities, such as meditation, yoga, or even colouring, helpful. Many anxiety sufferers also report diminished feelings of depression and nervousness after exercise so run, walk, or dance your way to relief! Lastly, behavioural therapy and medications, often used in conjunction with previously mentioned treatments can be hugely beneficial. Therapists and psychologists work with patients to manage and overcome feelings of anxiety, while psychiatrists can prescribe medications like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines to both prevent anxiety symptoms and treat its underlying causes. Using these treatment options, your anxiety symptoms should improve or go away completely.
TutorCare offer a wide range of courses for individuals, groups, businesses and trainers. Our courses cover anxiety as well as other relevant mental illnesses that may benefit care workers and family members. Take a look here to see how our Anxiety training course can help you.
For further reading on articles about Anxiety please follow these links:
How to help someone through an anxiety attack
The benefits of non violent crisis intervention training
100 symptoms of anxiety