Anxiety is more common than you think. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, general anxiety disorder (GAD) affects about 6.8 million adult Americans each year. You could be seemingly living a normal life, but these subtle signs you have an anxiety disorder might suggest otherwise.
If you're always worried about what people think, you constantly feel like you need to take on more responsibility when everyone around you tells you that you're already always so busy, or you feel self-conscious all the time, it might be time to take a moment to consider whether these signs are indicating that you have some form of anxiety. Keep in mind that there are many different types of anxiety disorders, from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) to GAD. Though high-functioning anxiety isn't an official diagnosis, many people suffer from it and deal with it in their own way. Know that anxiety is different from stress and, according to The Mighty, there are ways to tell them apart.
If you're worried you might be suffering from anxiety, it's important to speak up about it and seek help if needed. If you find yourself saying yes to a lot of these, but always considered yourself a normal, albeit slightly high strung person, it's possible you might have some form of high-functioning anxiety. Finding your triggers, from pregnancy hormones to coffee consumption, can help you better cope with your anxiety. Also know that you're not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety can happen at any stage in life, and women are 60 percent more likely to suffer from it.
Here are 15 subtle signs to watch out for.
According to Healthline, one of the common symptoms of anxiety is compulsive or repetitive behavior. That could mean that the order that you do things has to be just right, every time, or you have to leave at exactly 8:17 a.m. every morning, like clockwork.
Do you plan your bus route four times and make sure that it reaches exactly 30 minutes before your event? According to The Mighty, one of the 21 habits of people who identified having high-functioning anxiety was always being as early as possible. One person would show up at least an hour before any appointment started, whether it was the movies or a doctor's visit.
According to A Conscious Rethink, one of the biggest contributors to anxiety is insecurity and feeling a lack of understanding from others. Because of that insecurity, you could be seeing a quick change in your friend circles or be in the habit of keeping close friends at a distance. According to the NIMH, people with social anxiety disorder have a fear of being judged or fear offending others, which can mean they have a hard time keeping friends.
Do you keep lists on lists on list? Are you perceived as super organized by your peers, but you feel chaotic and like a hot mess on the inside? According to A Conscious Rethink, Many people with anxiety have been described as extreme type A personalities. According to Elite Daily, people with type A personalities "always have a task list — a never-ending one".
Another major reason why people who have anxiety issues always seem to have their sh*t together is because they do on the outside and seldom seem to make mistakes. In reality though, they're swimming in seas of doubt and lack of self-worth. Chaunie Brusie, RN, who struggles with high-functioning anxiety wrote on Healthline that she would cover up her internal anxiety by being an overchiever.
Maybe you feel like you always have to be doing something. Whether it's running or heading to the market, not being productive makes you feel lazy, and you can't seem to get yourself to slow down because then your mind starts whirring. Brusie also said that staying busy helps people with high-functioning anxiety ease their symptoms.
...Or you fidget, or you have a nervous tick that just sort of happens when you're around people. People with anxiety often report restlessness or fidgeting like pacing, hand wringing, straightening clothing, or tapping their feet. According to Medical Daily, the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) views nail biting is a sign of OCD.
Insomnia or having trouble falling asleep is a major sign of anxiety, says the NIMH. If you're like some, you might find that falling asleep and waking up are the two times that your thoughts get the better of you and you go into a whirlwind of doubt, fear, or worry.
Panic disorder is one form of anxiety where individuals experience panic attacks due to a feeling of being overwhelmed. In other cases, The Mighty says that social isolation and the need to be alone comes from a feeling of self-hate or self-consciousness. In that same article, people also reported being anxious in social occasions and felt much more comfortable being on their own than in a big group.
Related to wanting to stay home, feeling uncomfortable and wanting to leave an event could be another sign of social anxiety. You might leave to analyze the interactions you had or because you're afraid you are the most boring person there, says Healthline. Whatever your reasons for leaving, see if they have anything to do with insecurities you have with yourself.
According to Everyday Health, an elevated resting heartbeat is one symptom of anxiety. You might see this when you're most stressed. According to Harvard Health, the average resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute, but 90 is on the high side.
According to the NIH and NIMH, social anxiety disorder symptoms include worrying for days or weeks before an event, and panic disorders have symptoms of intense fear resulting in avoiding said event. Because of that, people with anxiety always imagine the worst case scenario. You might call it being realistic, but it could also be a sign of anxiety.
Everyone wants to be prepared, in life, for that big interview, for the apocalypse, you name it. Someone who suffers from anxiety might get panic attacks from not having a plan, a backup plan, and a backup plan to the backup plan. Always being prepared can be a way to subside panic attacks by answering the "what if" question for every situation.
Have you ever been told to loosen up or take a joke? According to Healthline, one sign anxiety is marinating within is a seriousness that's noticeable.
According to Sane Magazine, people with GAD might not be able to control their emotional reactions in stressful situations. A study conducted by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that that patients respond excessively to emotionally negative triggers. What this means is that you might constantly overreact to certain small things but not know why you did.
If you found yourself relating to a majority of these, it might be helpful to take a look at the triggers of your anxiety. According to Indiana University Health, major anxiety triggers include stress, illness, trauma, life transitions like a new job or baby, hormones in pregnant and postpartum women, and coffee or cigarette usage. Beyond seeing a doctor for treatment plans, the IUH recommends using the ESCAPE method, which stands for exercise, sleep, connect, appreciate, pleasure, and exhale to address anxiety.
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