Feeling anxious can be quite normal, as long as any feelings of apprehension or tension go away again by themselves or aren’t severe enough to impact on your life. Anxiety often accompanies depression, and as with depression and stress most people feel anxious at times, particularly when confronted with a stressful situation. You can also experience symptoms of anxiety for no apparent reason, and particularly when worries seem to take over your life you may suffer from what’s known as generalized anxiety disorder. This can be difficult to distinguish from depression and stress.
Anxiety isn’t always easy to recognize, and so consider these indicators:
- You feel nervous or on edge.
- You find relaxing and controlling your worries difficult.
- You tend to worry a lot, perhaps much more than you or other people feel is ‘normal’, and tend to think the worst.
- You’re so fidgety that you find sitting still difficult at times.
- You suffer from mood swings or get easily wound up.
- Your worrying affects your day-to-day life significantly – including your social life and work.
- You often think that something bad is going to happen.
- You find your worries upsetting and stressful.
- You suffer nightmares or from increased sensitivity to noise.
Physical symptoms commonly develop when you suffer from anxiety, and so you may also notice the following:
- Your hands are shaking and you may notice strange sensations such as tingling or numbness.
- You easily get a dry mouth or find swallowing difficult.
- You get headaches or feel dizzy.
- You experience chest discomfort or palpitations.
- You pass urine or open your bowels frequently.
If you feel that you may be suffering from anxiety – particularly if you’ve had symptoms of anxiety for a few months or longer – visit your psychiatrist for further assessment and to discuss the treatment options. If appropriate, your psychiatrist may want to exclude other possible causes that can also lead to symptoms of anxiety, such as:
- Formation of an overactive thyroid gland.
- Drinking too much coffee or tea.
- Experiencing low blood sugar.
- Withdrawing from drugs or alcohol.
Anxiety is incredibly common, but many people with symptoms of anxiety struggle to summon up the courage and seek professional help because they’re anxious or because they’re ashamed or embarrassed about the way they feel and think. Remember that your psychiatrist is well trained in dealing with anxiety, and that lots of other people also have these symptoms.