Maybe you have no reason to feel anxious. Or, maybe, it’s all just too much to handle. The thing is, it’s okay to feel your feelings —just don’t live there.
Anxiety makes you feel like you’re the only one suffering. You need to understand that anxiety disorders are common in people of all ages. They can range in severity from mild to debilitating. I mean look at me.
I have unruly bouts of hysterical concern. I rage against logic depending on the dramatic scenarios fluttering in my head. Maybe I stay up all night trying to figure out if I made anyone mad or wondering if the thing I did three years ago, is finally going to catch up with me. When you add it all up, I don’t worry, I simply go insane.
It’s called generalized anxiety disorder, also known as my every day.
I think it’s important to understand as much as you can though. Yes, it’s complicated, and its characteristics can be confusing. But what in life isn’t? When you think about your world, there’s enough to worry about for 10 generations —without even naming your day to day hiccups.
Even if there’s no reason, you should be tense, that’s doesn’t erase your current reality.
So, if you’re in this situation, I can relate. I’m clearly a stressed person by nature. Nevertheless, even for the most anxious, there are ways to ease the pain of anxiety and eventually eliminate it. But before you can actually work toward fixing it, you must identify why you do the things you do.
10 Signs You May Have an Actual Anxiety Disorder
Everyone gets nervous from time to time —when public speaking, for example, or when going on a blind date. For others, however, anxiety becomes so frequent, or so forceful, that it begins to take over your life. When a person has an anxiety disorder, they may feel fearful or uncertain almost all the time.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anxiety disorders can have a number of different causes. Many people are predisposed to due to their genetic makeup.
Some simply cannot handle stress.
In other cases, you may have an anxiety disorder without experiencing any of these causes. The funny thing is, most of us with some form of anxiety have similar personality traits and characteristics.
1. You’re Smart AF but You May Have Trouble Concentrating
You’re instinctively creative. From the beginning, your intellect was obvious. You asked questions that maybe your mom and dad couldn’t answer. Chances are, you were bored in school and so you made bad grades because you didn’t listen —not by choice though.
The thing is, according to Charter Health Coach, Mely Brown, successful anxiety types are actually wired differently from 80-85 percent of the general population.
If you’re constantly thinking about who you should be but aren’t, and what you should be doing but can’t, understand that valuing your achievements and signature strengths can allow you to show yourself as you truly are, more comfortably —even when you’re the odd one out.
Because maybe your intellect caused trouble for you then, and it still does now. You’re a thinker, dreamer, explorer, and seeker, which gives you more to worry about. It never really ends, you just get used to it (or at least try).
2. You Over Analyze Just About Everything
The hallmark of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) —the broadest type of anxiety —is worrying too much about everyday things, large and small. You’re still thinking about the stupid thing you said four years ago —when the person you said it too hasn’t thought about it for even a second. You hold on to things, and therefore, it’s harder to let go (even if you know it’s bad for you).
You’re a creature of habit and you struggle at the slightest hint of change. Partly because you like the familiar. You have your routine and it makes you feel safe.
3. You Don’t Think You’re Good Enough
Real talk. You feel like a fraud most of the time. You replay those negative thoughts in your head as if they are fact. Because of this, you struggle socially. These thinking and behavioral patterns disrupt your life and relationships. Brown says that impostor syndrome isn’t exclusive to those with anxiety.
“Many conscientious and high achieving people fall victim to this nagging fear,” she suggests. “But the simmering discomfort about being found out is often constant for a person battling anxiety.”
And why wouldn’t it be? —considering you’ve spent a lifetime trying to fit in. “But even if you grew up displaying your anxiety with pride,” Brown interjects. “It’s unlikely you escaped the cultural pressure motivating you to disguise your real self.”
Because you are good enough. Those whispering voices filled with self-doubt are false. I think it’s fear that fuels this negativity, as a child and even today. You imagine the worst if something is going wrong (or even if it’s not) because maybe, it happened one time ten years ago. And when meeting new people, inside, you have no confidence.
I mean according to those voices, you’re not good enough. As a result, all is lost before it even begins. Unfortunately, this is how you still think, for the most part. And so you isolate.
4. You Prefer to be Alone
Chances are, you’re an introvert. As a child, you had no problem with being alone, maybe you even preferred it. In this space, maybe you created imaginary friends —thanks to that great imagination of yours. And today, those same childhood quirks affect your adult life in ways you maybe never realized. It’s not like you don’t want to hang out and be the life of the party, but those irrational worries get in your way.
Maybe, in your head, you made it out the door to the dinner date you promised yourself you’d go to and you actually had fun. However, that’s not always the case. In truth, you usually end up canceling a day or two before. This is not because you’re rude, it’s because you simply let your fears get the best of you.
The thing is, being alone doesn’t help. Instead, it allows your never-ending thoughts and emotions to churn and bubble as they swirl about in your jittery brain. It’s quiet and no one disturbs the process. I think it’s because you fear rejection and failure.
5. You Try to be Perfect
When you do try and do fail, you feel it that much harder. This evidence suggests anxiety can be so disruptive that it can be harshly difficult to meet new people, maintain relationships, and advance at work or in school. It really is an oxymoron. You want to be with people. You want to get that promotion, yet, at the same time, you want to shut it all off and stay at home in bed. It’s like if you’re not picture perfect, you’re the worst person in the world.
It’s like you fear failure so much that you don’t start at all. This is known as the finicky and obsessive mindset called perfectionism. Oh and if things don’t go according to your original plan, maybe you freak out a little more than a friend going through the same situation would. And if the smallest detail is off, it can throw your emotional state completely out of whack.
6. You’re Sensitive
Everything touches you, and as a child, you cried easily. It’s not because you were a coward. No, your heart is big and soft, symbolically of course, and you find beauty in everything. This may cause you to remain overly sensitive to people and your environment.
Because everything touches you, both positively and negatively, you feel your feelings just a little harder than the “normal” guy or gal next to you.
7. You have Flashbacks
Maybe there’s a specific reason for your anxiety. Maybe you also have a little pinch of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Reliving a disturbing or traumatic event —a violent encounter, the sudden death of a loved one —is a trademark of PTSD, which shares features with anxiety. Until very recently, in fact, PTSD was seen as a type of anxiety disorder rather than a stand-alone condition.
However, flashbacks may occur with other types of anxiety as well. Some research, including a 2006 study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, suggests that some people with social anxiety have PTSD-like flashbacks of experiences that might not seem obviously traumatic, such as being publicly ridiculed. These people may even avoid events, situations, or reminders of the experience.
8. You Don’t Trust Easily
As a result of your past experiences, you think most people are jerks. You’re afraid they’ll take advantage if you open up. You watch your back and always stay guarded. There’s no way to fully relax if you’re not sure who’s in front of you. And so, you white-knuckle life.
9. You Can’t Sit Still
Call it energy or call it boredom, but when you bite your nails and tap your feet, you drive everyone around you crazy. You’re only trying to distract the voices in your head from telling you to worry again. From the beginning, you fidgeted and now you move about because it’s hard to wait for answers.
10. You Don’t See Yourself How Others Do
Self-esteem is the opinion you have of yourself. When you have healthy self-confidence, you tend to feel positive about yourself and life in general. It makes you able to deal with life’s ups and downs better. However, when your self-esteem is low, you tend to see yourself in a more negative and critical light —making it feel almost impossible to overcome the challenges life throws at you.
Perhaps you find it difficult to live up to other people’s expectations of you, or even to your own? The thing is, you don’t have to feel this way forever.
So, how can you tell if your everyday anxiety has crossed the line into an actual disorder? It’s not easy. Anxiety comes in many different forms —such as panic attacks, phobias, and social stress. The distinction between an official diagnosis and “normal” anxiety isn’t always clear either.
Here’s a start. If you experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, you may want to talk with your doctor. Because there is help available. You really can live a healthy, happy life. At the end of the day, you can either focus on what’s tearing you apart or what’s keeping you together.