Feeling anxious every once in a while and having an anxiety disorder are two very different things. When you have an anxiety disorder, you can become fixated on a thought or feeling that leads you down a rabbit hole of anxious thoughts.
While there are different types of anxiety disorders, a common thread between them all is that it interferes with your daily life.
Here are four signs that may signal you are dealing with an anxiety disorder.
Your Anxious Thoughts Don’t Go Away
When you have an anxiety disorder, you often become incredibly anxious in situations where others might only get a little anxious, like during family gatherings. This anxiety also tends to last longer and is more persistent. When your anxious thoughts start to impact your daily life, that’s when it becomes an issue.
Your Anxiety Disorder Manifests Itself Physically
If your anxious thoughts are accompanied by physical conditions, like restlessness, fatigue, and muscle pain, among others, it could signal that you have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders can lead to gastrointestinal issues, like heartburn, cramping, and even diarrhea. These physical symptoms are as a result of your body being in a constant heightened state of anxiety.
You Can’t Focus
It isn’t that uncommon for people who have a general anxiety disorder to be mistakenly diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This is because when you have an anxiety disorder, you tend to have difficulty focusing.
When you’re always anxious, you tend to be in your head constantly and can get distracted by the negative thoughts and obsessions rattling around in your head. To an outsider, it looks like you have ADHD.
You Have Trouble Sleeping
The anxiety that you experience tends to take your thoughts on a ride that leaves you struggling to catch some zzz’s. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), some level of sleep disruption is present in almost all mental disorders, including anxiety.
If you have more than one of these symptoms, there’s a good chance that you might be dealing with an anxiety disorder.
However, before you jump to any conclusions. It’s best to speak with your doctor to rule out any other conditions. Because anxiety symptoms often mimic other medical conditions.
Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be treated so that you can learn to manage your symptoms and get back to living your life.
Overcoming Your Anxiety Disorder
If your fears and anxiety are holding you back from living the life you want, you’re not alone. More than 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. The good news is that there are studies that show by facing your fears you can gain the courage you need to overcome other concerns that you may have.
Here are five tips for facing your fears and overcoming anxiety.
Don’t Go It Alone
When you are facing down your fears, it can be beneficial to have someone along for the journey that can cheer you on. Perhaps you know someone who has the same fear as you, that can partner with you so that you can encourage and cheer each other on.
Boost Your Confidence
When you are getting ready to stare down your fear, it can be immensely helpful to remember all of the other courageous things that you’ve accomplished in your life. Remember how it felt to achieve your goal. Recognizing previous acts of courage can go a long way in helping you face your fears.
Acknowledge the Fear
Many times our fears are relegated to the back of our minds, unacknowledged and ignored. Even when faced with anxiety, we often choose just to feel the issue. But never really take the time to understand our fear. Start paying attention to how your body feels. Acknowledge the sensation as a symptom rather than something more significant.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
There have been many studies over the years on the positive effects of keeping a gratitude journal. These studies suggest that people who practice gratitude had higher levels of positive emotions, a stronger immune system, felt less lonely, and had more happiness in their lives. Rather than focusing on the negative in your life, be thankful for everything that you have.
Expose Yourself to What You Fear
Even though it can be terrifying, if you want to overcome your fears, then you just have to face them. Sit down and define the worst-case scenario of the unknown outcome, an realize that the worst scenario rarely happens.
Doing this you’ll start to notice that each time you do the scary thing, it gets a little bit easier. It is possible to face your fears and overcome your anxiety. Facing your fear will lead you to live a better life, free from stress and anxiety.