If You Experience These 11 Symptoms During The Day, You Might Have Anxiety
There are so many well-known signs of anxiety, such as sweaty palms, nervousness, and a racing heart. But did you know it's possible to experience other signs of anxiety, such as rashes that crop up when you're nervous, or problems with your memory? Since these symptoms may hold you back and disrupt your day, it's important to be aware of how little issues like these might be connected to an anxiety disorder.
Once you put two and two together, it'll become easier to recognize the problem for what it is, and then do something about it. "If someone thinks they might have anxiety or they are experiencing [new] symptoms that might be caused by an anxiety disorder, they should first determine if the cause of these symptoms is situational, or if it is part of a larger problem," licensed psychologist Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW, of Ambrosia Treatment Center, tells Bustle. "Agitation is a normal human response to a stressful situation, [where as] an anxiety disorder causes excessive distress that interferes with an individual’s everyday life. Anxiety disorders can affect all parts of the body, and if they notice these symptoms flare up ... it might be time to talk to a mental health professional."
A therapist can help you figure out ways to better deal with your anxiety — such as meditating, practicing yoga, beginning therapy, or taking medication — so you can get back to feelin' like your old self again. Here are 11 little-known symptoms that might mean you have anxiety.
1. Your Mind Keeps Going Blank
Have you ever been going along and suddenly — record scratch — your brain seems to freeze? "If you knew exactly what you were going to say moments before, but then find your mind going completely blank once the words start coming out of your mouth, this could be anxiety," therapist Sheri Thompson, LCSW tells Bustle.
Here's why it happens: "The reason why is as your anxiety escalates, the parts of your brain responsible for executive functioning — our prefrontal cortex — takes a back seat to your fight-or-flight response, which has the sole purpose of physically responding to danger. You're less able to think logically or concentrate on anything other than getting the hell out of there." Hence your brain screeching to a halt.
2. Your Hands And Feet Are Always Cold
If your hands and feet are always cold, even when it's warm or you're wearing gloves and socks, take note. "When you're anxious, the fight/flight/freeze response is triggered," licensed psychologist Crystal I. Lee, PsyD, owner of LA Concierge Psychologist, tells Bustle. "This results in your blood flow being redirected away from your extremities and towards your torso and vital organs. That, in turn, causes very cold hands and feet!"
3. You Keep Getting Sick
If you've ever rushed into a public bathroom to, well, hurriedly go to the bathroom, it could be that you ate something that didn't agree with you. Or, it could be due to an anxiety-induced stress response. "If you frequently have bouts of diarrhea it could be anxiety," says Thompson. "The autonomic nervous system (our fight-or-flight response to stress) can make the body react in strange ways. As the fight-or-flight system is triggered it causes the body to redistribute water and blood flow and can interrupt digestive processes, causing diarrhea and stomach upset."
4. You're Procrastinating More Often
Most of us procrastinate in one way, shape, or form. But if you notice you are putting off tasks often, it could be little-known side effect of anxiety. "If you find yourself unable or unwilling to act in various situations, you should ask yourself, 'why?'" certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle. "Many people delay making decisions or taking action out of worry and anxiety. If you find yourself constantly delaying for no good reason, it could be a sign you have anxiety." If you have difficulties staying on task, or beginning tasks, then speaking with a loved one or therapist about the potential stressors keeping you from getting things done may help alleviate this symptom.
5. You Can't Help But Focus On The Negatives
Anxiety has a pesky way of making you forget about the good things in life, while making it super easy to zero in on the negatives. "If you’re dealing with a situation, a rational outlook involves realistically examining the positives and negatives," says Bennett. "However, people with anxiety tend to focus primarily on the possible negative outcomes and dwell on those exclusively. If you constantly think about how a situation will fail and can’t seem to shake that negativity, it could come from anxiety." If you are struggling to shift your perspective and focus on the positives, you may want to seek help for this issue by speaking with someone you trust, or a therapist.
6. You Feel Tired All. The. Time.
It's normal to be tired after a long day, or after a particularly stressful situation. But experts say it's unusual to feel tired all the time, and for seemingly no reason.
If this describes your life, consider anxiety as one possible cause for your tiredness. "When we don't recognize we are anxious we simply can feel like we want to disengage from the world and at the same time we feel tired," Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Web tells Bustle. "Napping allows us to escape the anxiety and 'recover' physically from the physical toll anxiety can take."
7. You Get Upset Really Easily
Anxiety can put you on edge. And when you're on edge, experts say getting upset over minor inconveniences can become the norm. "If you find yourself upset or stressed out over something that normally wouldn't have bothered you — such as a friend rescheduling lunch plans — and it feels like your world is collapsing rather than a life annoyance, this may be another sign," therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. If you begin to notice this, take the necessary steps to seek help in a way that's most comfortable for you.
8. You Bite Your Nails
Nervous habits, such as constant nail biting or hair pulling, often crop up in people who have anxiety. "The act of focusing on removing hair from the scalp, eyebrow, or skin from around the nails can offer an odd soothing feeling to distract from either a stressful situation or a quiet moment where anxiety could take over," San Francisco-based therapist Shrein Bahrami, MFT tells Bustke. Be mindful if you are noticing these nervous habits becoming more frequent, and speak to loved ones or a therapist to help alleviate some of your anxiety.
9. Your Back Always Hurts
Are you someone who always has a sore back or tense shoulders? Or someone who needs to take showers several times a day, in order to relax and wind down? If so, it could be due to tension caused by anxiety, and the resulting muscle pain.
"People usually don't associate aching muscles with anxiety, but it's actually quite common," says Lee. "Those with anxiety are prone to tensing their muscles (usually without even realizing it), which can lead to achy muscles or knots in muscles."
10. You Break Out In Rashes
Rashes are another side effect people with anxiety often experience. "Some say it's because the extra cortisol pumping in your system (as a result of the stress)," says Lee. And that, in turn, causes the rashes. This symptom, however, does not always indicate anxiety. If you notice rashes cropping up on your skin, speaking with your doctor is the quickest way to get to the root of the issue, and find solutions.
11. You Have Difficulty Focusing
It's normal to get a bit distracted from time to time. But if you can't seem to focus on a task, or get anything completed at work in a timely fashion, take note. "When I did psychological testing, several people would think they had ADHD because they struggled with their attention," says Lee. "In fact, they had an anxiety disorder instead. Their anxiety interrupted their train of thought or preoccupied their attention, so they weren't able to focus on what they needed to."
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, there's a chance you may have anxiety. But that's OK! While anxiety may be difficult to deal with, there is hope to manage your symptoms. It may take time and perseverance to figure out the best treatment options, but there are plenty of ways to soothe your nerves — such as speaking with a loved one or therapist, and trying meditation, yoga, or other types of exercise — that'll have you feeling like your self in no time.
Editor's note: This story and its headline have been updated from their original versions.