“It’s sad, actually, because my anxiety keeps me from enjoying things as much as I should at this age.” –Amanda Seyfried
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that approximately 29% of American adults have lived with an anxiety disorder over the course of their lifetime. These disorders can be life-altering, impacting and interfering with all areas of your life including your school work, job performance, relationships and even your ability to leave the house and function in the outside world. Involving more than the typical, temporary feelings of worry or fear that one experiences from time to time, but rather a more serious, nagging anxiety that doesn’t go away, gradually getting worse over time.
There are a number of options for those that are suffering to work towards either treating or managing their condition, including self-help or support groups, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication or a number of stress management techniques. These management techniques may include meditating, taking focused deep breaths, writing or journaling, exercising or creating artwork among other ideas. Often found to be effective, there are times that these techniques fail to calm our nerves.
“Some people have the ability to tolerate and reduce the intensity of anxiety,” explains Vena M. Davis, a licensed clinical social worker, “In the event those things are no longer ‘enough,’ I would invite the person to consider the pros and cons of receiving therapeutic support from a licensed mental health professional. A professional can help the person learn additional strategies to manage anxiety if it is long-lasting and happening more often than the person’s usual experience. If the aforementioned continues unaddressed, the person may experience challenges in maintaining pleasant relationships… The person may have challenges in maintaining a pleasant relationship with themselves, as well.”
How do you know if your anxiety is getting worse? Watch for these 8 signs:
1. You are scatterbrained and forgetful.
Anxiety is a condition that monopolizes your mind and your thoughts. If your mind is completely wrapped up in thoughts of what may be going wrong, or what you may have done wrong in the past, it is difficult to focus on the task at hand. This may result in what can only be described as ‘ditzy’ behavior.
2. You experience a decreased libido.
When you are experiencing times of high anxiety, it can highly impact the way that you are feeling about yourself and the world around you. This impact on your overall feeling can make it so that you struggle to feel aroused, even in situations where you normally wouldn’t struggle with this problem.
3. You appear highly distracted.
When your mind is trying to protect you from potentially negative thoughts, it may attempt to dissociate from the stressor. This can come across to others as if you are ‘lost in your own world,’ or incredibly distant.
4. You may find yourself fishing for reassurances.
If you are feeling anxious about the decisions that you are making, your appearance or your worth then you may find yourself fishing for reassurance from other people in your life. For example, you may ask a question such as ‘I’m not fat, am I?’ in the hope that someone will confirm that you are not fat.
5. You are having difficulty sleeping.
Experts say that anxiety triggers a fight-or-flight reaction within the brain, which sends your mind into overdrive. Among other reactions, this survival mode can cause you to experience insomnia. This condition is often made worse due to the side effects of anxiety medication. Lack of sleep is also known to trigger feelings of anxiety and worsen anxiety symptoms, creating a harmful cycle.
6. You find that you are experiencing mood swings or feeling highly frustrated with everyone and everything.
When you enter into this level of ‘survival mode,’ the mental state that results in the aforementioned insomnia, another aspect of your personality that is highly impacted is your level of patience. Furthermore, the fight-or-flight reaction can leave you feeling defensive and on edge.
7. You worry about everything.
One of the best-known signs of anxiety is the fact that you over analyze and worry about nearly everything. This is your body’s attempt to protect yourself, drawing attention to potential threats in the world around you.
8. You experience a change in your eating habits.
Signs of anxiety include a number of changes in your eating habits, involving both ends of the spectrum. As your anxiety heightens, you may find that you are eating more, turning to food as an emotional comfort, or that you are no longer feeling hungry, drastically cutting back on your eating habits.