Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2023. Mental Health Awareness Week takes place in May each year, and in 2023 it will run from 15th-21st May. The last topic I covered for Mental Health Awareness Week was body image. The topic this year is anxiety, so I’ll be writing today about the 9 signs you may have dismissed that are actually signs of anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
It’s important to note that anxiety isn’t always something bad. It can work as an internal alarm that can protect us from danger, making low-level anxiety from time to time beneficial (Staner, 2003). A basic definition of anxiety comes from Craske et al. (2011), who defined anxiety as being a future-oriented state whereby a person is preparing for possible (real or perceived) upcoming negative events.
The main issue with clinical anxiety is that the feelings can come without being attached to any thoughts, which instead just clouds your day (Chelsea Psychology Clinic). That said, in my experience, there is often a link to something that happened in the past. This could be a result of bullying at school or issues at home. For me, mine could be traced back to both.
Signs Of Anxiety
- Being unable to sit still.
- Feeling on edge and restless.
- Feeling like something bad is about to happen.
- Feeling easily irritated/agitated.
- Feeling fatigued.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Tense muscles.
- Sleep disturbances (insomnia).
- Avoiding loved ones and social situations.
Anxiety Signs In Effect
The following are a few examples of how anxiety can affect you. So to start, if you’re struggling with your concentration levels, you can’t think clearly, or having trouble focusing, then this could be a warning sign of having anxiety. If left unchecked, this could affect your work/school performance. It can also impair your ability to make decisions (Healthline).
According to AnxietyCentre.com, anxiety can cause stress, as stress and anxiety have overlapping components. As such, the stress hormone, cortisol, can flood the body. If this happens frequently enough, then your body can remain in a state of emergency readiness. This can cause hyperstimulation, which can affect one or a group of muscles to remain tight. It’s this that can cause muscle tension.
The reason why anxiety can cause your heart rate to increase and hyperventilation is because your body is experiencing a hormonal rush, which can leave you feeling tired, sometimes even after resting (Healthline). Therefore, if you’re feeling exhausted even after rest, you could be experiencing anxiety. It can also be a sign of burnout, especially if you’re not experiencing rapid heartbeats and fast breathing at any point.
Unfortunately, for those with an anxiety disorder, there can be issues with insomnia. This can come in the form of sleep disturbances or nightmares (Staner, 2003), the latter is especially common in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Therefore, if you’re experiencing sleep issues, especially recurring nightmares that are linked to trauma, then you might have an anxiety disorder.
The most annoying thing about how sleep can be affected by anxiety is how sleep deprivation can worsen your anxiety, creating a negative cycle (Sleep Foundation). Before I worked through my childhood trauma, which was the main factor in my insomnia, my anxiety would be through the roof if I didn’t get at least four hours of sleep. And sky-high anxiety meant I’d experience prolonged psychotic episodes.
Irritability is another common symptom of all anxiety disorders. The body and mind of someone living with it can be overwhelmed with worry and hormones, causing them to be more irritable than usual (Priory). This is a problem because it can make it difficult to shrug off or ignore things, things that might be extremely trivial in nature. The result of this is people can be quick to anger. This is one of the concerns that can affect some people with PTSD.
If the fuse to your temper has shortened or you’re finding yourself bothered by things that wouldn’t normally bother you, then this could be a sign that you’re experiencing anxiety. So if you’re snapping at people for what seems like no reason, then it may be time to talk to your doctor. They’ll be able to help you figure out if you’re overstressed or suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety evolved in humans for a reason, to protect us from potential danger. However, in the modern world, the dangers this evolved to protect us from are rarely an issue anymore. Although it still has its uses as part of our survival mechanism, it can be turned into a pathological issue. This is often linked to some sort of traumatic event or has been taught to us at some stage in our lives. Whatever the cause, having an anxiety disorder can be extremely debilitating.
Knowing some of the common warning signs, as listed in this article, will mean you’re better prepared to notice when the symptoms start to develop. And, the sooner you seek support to address this, the better your recovery outcome will be. The early bird catches the worm and all that. Even if you do catch it late, you can still learn to manage it better and even overcome it, but it might take more time and effort to do so. That’s because it’s harder to replace a habit once it’s formed.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, please share your experiences with anxiety in the comments section below as well. Don’t forget, if you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
Craske, M. G., Rauch, S. L., Ursano, R., Prenoveau, J., Pine, D. S., & Zinbarg, R. E. (2011). What is an anxiety disorder?. Focus, 9(3), 369-388. Retrieved from https://focus.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/foc.9.3.foc369 and https://focus.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/foc.9.3.foc369.
Staner, L. (2003). Sleep and anxiety disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 5(3), 249–258. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2003.5.3/lstaner and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181635.
24 thoughts on “9 Signs You’re Dismissed That Is Actually Anxiety”
Thanks for writing about anxiety. I suffer with a lot of anxiety, and people sometimes can’t tell. It’s hard living with anxiety when your high functioning. Great outline of the basics, everyone will learn from this.
I somehow managed to mask my anxiety and even my psychosis so well that no one realised. Thanks for sharing
Honestly, anxiety is something I’ve been going through for a while now. And I’ve had these signs well. Very informative!
I’m sorry to hear about your anxiety. I hope you are able to work through it soon. Thanks for sharing
I have often tried to understand my mom who, before I left for work, will always warn me of dangers of weather, of losing my ID card, of drinking water regularly, being safe, calling her as soon as I reached the dance studio. It’s normal for a mother to be protective of children but I realised that her reminders were making me anxious and scared. I was unable to enjoy any weather or a situation until I took a risk and started enjoying the rain, the mud, the smell of earth, the freshness in the air. I am still not sure if she is normally anxious like every parent or panics easily. Sometimes when people are too careful or say negative things then something bad definitely happens because that’s what we are trying to avoid and is constantly on our mind. I am not a parent so I guess I will never understand. Getting wet in the rain can cause cold and fever but I always feel that the plants are smiling when it rains.
It’s impossible to say if your mum had anxiety or not, but the effects your mum’s behaviour had on you seems to have affected you quite a bit. This is a common issue within families. We can learn unhealthy behaviours from our parents that can affect our wellbeing. But it seems you’ve not let it affect you as much as it could have done. Thanks for sharing your experience
Great post! I’ve always been quite an anxious person, and I know how to manage my anxiety these days. However, it’s still helpful to understand the signs. Thank you for sharing
Thanks for sharing
Thank you for shedding light on the signs of anxiety that often go unrecognized or dismissed . It’s important to recognize that anxiety can manifest in different ways for different people, and that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. I appreciate your emphasis on seeking support and professional help if needed. Have you found any particular techniques or strategies helpful in managing your own anxiety symptoms?
The one that worked best for my anxiety was exposure therapy and not engaging with my thoughts, because when I did, it just made them stronger
I have anxiety and sometimes feel overwhelmed. Every time I have anxiety I always tell myself to take a break, go for nature activities, and pray.
I’m glad you’ve found ways to manage it that work for you. Thanks for sharing
People really overlook anxiety so much and they just say “you’re crazy”
Indeed. Thanks for commenting
Thanks for sharing this. I didn’t realise that there were so many different signs of anxiety. Get anxious but try to just keep moving forward, but looking at the signs, maybe I need to speak up more or at least take time to breathe.
If your anxiety is affecting your quality of life, then it might be time to consider working on what’s causing the anxiety so you can regain that lost quality of life. Thanks for commenting
I can relate to this post so much as I have anxiety and when I was first diagnosed I didn’t know what it was and felt like I was the only one. It is good it is talked about more and people like you using your platform to inform others. It would have been nice to read this information after my diagnosis. Thank you for sharing.
Lauren – bournemouthgirl
Thank you for sharing your story
Great post, I think a lot of people suffer from anxiety and don’t even know it because they inwardly dismiss or ignore the symptoms before ever considering that they could be linked to a bigger issue.
Indeed. Thanks for commenting
I have suffered from anxiety since the age of 11. Two of my main signs that I’m in the “thick of it” is irritability and insomnia. I’ve become very aware of my triggers over the years and whenever I experience these two signs, I know it’s time to retreat and pull back from my daily responsibilities that could be contributing to my stress. Definitely hasn’t been an easy journey but at least being aware of the triggers has been helpful. Thank you for sharing!
That’s very self-aware of you. Thanks for sharing your experience and insights
As always great post. This is really helpful especially because sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between stress and anxiety and I like how you described it clearly. It’s totally true that anxiety causes insomnia and yet that makes it worse, it’s like a vicious cycle. Thanks for sharing another insightful read!
A lack of sleep makes everything worse. Thanks for sharing your thoughts