Anxiety is a misunderstood condition, as not everyone knows what it is unless you deal personally with someone who has the condition. Not everyone has it, even though it is a normal occurrence to get nervous or anxious about something sometimes – such as speaking in public, or when you are going through a difficulty in your finances.

However, for some people, the anxiety levels are so high that they interfere with their work or daily lives. This is the stage when it becomes so forceful and frequent that it begins to take over your life.

The underlying question here is this – how can you tell the anxiety you experience everyday has crossed the line and become a disorder? Like other mental disorders, it is not very easy to tell especially when you do not know what the symptoms look like. Anxiety manifests itself in different forms, such as social anxiety, panic attacks and phobia. However, to make the diagnosis easier, here are some warning signs you should not ignore.

Excessive levels of worry

GAD, or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, is the broadest form of anxiety, and this symptom is a key warning sign of the condition. It basically involves worrying too much about everyday occurrences and things, whether they are small or big. However, what makes worry cross the line of ‘too much’?

In this case, it means that you have consistently high levels of thoughts that are anxious in nature, and make you worry too much. It should also happen on most days of the week, for a period of six months. In addition, the effects of the anxiety must be so bad, that they interfere with your daily routines and life in general, while causing other noticeable effects such as fatigue.

The main distinction between normal anxiety levels and anxiety disorders is that the emotions you have cause much dysfunction and suffering.

Problems with sleep patterns

The problem of insomnia (failing to fall asleep) or having too much sleep is generally due to many health conditions, which can be either psychological or physical. Of course, it is normal to toss and turn in bed the night before doing something major, like going for a job interview.

However, if you find yourself having frequent problems with falling asleep or you sleep too much; when you are chronically lying awake or you get agitated when trying to get some shut eye – then that signals a problem. The worries may be due to a variety of things, such as specific problems like finances, or nothing in particular. Some estimates present the problem with sleep patterns as affecting almost half of all people with general anxiety disorder.

Another warning sign of anxiety is waking up and you feel like your mind is all over the place, your thoughts are racing, and no matter how hard you try you cannot calm down.

Irrational fear

Apart from GAD, some types of anxiety are attached to specific things or situations. These can include anything from animals, flying, or crowds. If this fear is overwhelming the person, then that is a sign of phobia, a type of anxiety disorder. It makes the person feel like they cannot control it, it becomes disruptive and overwhelming, and can even be magnified in their minds too much compared to the actual risk.

Phobias can be crippling and annoying, but they are not the most obvious things sometimes. In fact, they do not appear until you encounter a specific situation and then you discover you cannot conquer your fear. For instance, you might be scared of snakes, but the only time it becomes apparent is when you go camping and see one, and you have to go to hospital for treatment even though it did nothing to you.

Tension in the muscles

When you have constant tension in your muscles that is often a sign of anxiety disorder. Regardless of whether it consists of balling your fists, clenching your jaw, or flexing your body muscles frequently – that is a sign that something is wrong somewhere.

The problem here is that the problem might be so persistent that you stop noticing it after some time when you have lived with it for so long.

You can control muscle tension when you exercise regularly, but if you unfortunately suffer an injury or an unforeseen event that can interfere with your working habits, I the muscle tension can flare up and become uncomfortable. The pain can also lead to other effects, such as irritability and mood swings.

Indigestion on a chronic level

Even though anxiety is a mental condition and starts from your mind, its effects will spread to the body and manifest themselves as additional symptoms such as chronic digestion problems. One of the more infamous ones is IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is a condition that leads to bloating, stomach cramps, stomachaches, constipation, gas, and/or diarrhea. In this way, it is the digestive tract experiencing anxiety.

IBS is not always related directly to anxiety, just to keep in mind – but the two appear together in many cases, and they can make each other worse. This is because the gut has high sensitivity to psychological stresses, in case you may not know, and the same goes for stress being amplified by gut illnesses. The social and physical; discomfort that someone goes through because of this can make them have greater levels of anxiety.

Panic attacks

These are the most terrifying sign of anxiety, and they happen suddenly, even in the most unexpected places. When you suddenly experience a gripping fear and you cannot breathe for several minutes, in addition to other symptoms such as chest pain, sweating, pounding or racing heartbeat, stomach pain, dizziness or weakness, and changes in body temperature, those are among the signs of impending panic attacks.

Not everyone who suffers panic attacks have anxiety disorders, but the more you experience them, you might be diagnosed with panic disorder.

Final thoughts

Anxiety attacks have increased as the years go by, and it is important to know the signs. Serious cases, when not dealt with early, can lead to drug and substance abuse that act as an escape for the affected person, such as cocaine abuse – so it is essential to deal with it early enough.