Anxiety is classified as a disorder when it becomes chronic, obsessive and overwhelming. If you are suffering from anxiety, it will affect you in at least four different ways. These are the way you think, the way you feel, the way your body works and the way you behave.
1. Anxiety Affects You Physically
Anxiety can affect you in very real, physical ways. You may feel nervous, anxious or frightened. Anxiety can cause sweating, shortness of breath, increased heart rate and trembling. Feeling nauseous is common, as is feeling dizzy or light headed, as well as butterflies and churning in your stomach. You may experience muscle tension, a dry mouth or tingling or prickling in hands and feet. Some people have problems with their vision when they have anxiety, while some have a tight or knotted feeling in their chest. You don’t have to experience all of these symptoms in order for it to be an anxiety disorder.
2. Anxiety Affects You Emotionally
Some of the emotional symptoms of anxiety include dreaminess, tiredness, nightmares or bad dreams. Particularly with panic disorder, you may feel removed from yourself (called depersonalization) or feel as if you are in a nightmare or dream (derealiztion).
Various thoughts can commonly occur, such as depressive thoughts or thoughts of a sexual or violent nature. These may be inappropriate thoughts toward the people you love. For those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, they may experience compulsive thoughts or compulsions.
You could feel an increase in violence and aggression, mood swings, or feel as though you are unable to care about others. You may want to avoid people altogether, with feelings of shyness towards people to outright panic at the thought of communicating with someone.
Feeling like you can’t cope or have a disinterest in life are especially common.
3. Anxiety Affects You Mentally
The mental symptoms of anxiety can cross over with the emotional symptoms. Do you think you may be losing your mind? That you can’t cope and are losing control? Do you worry about fainting or feeling sick or worse, that something may be wrong with you such as a brain tumour? Do you sometimes feel that you may be having a heart attack?
These are all ways in which anxiety affects you mentally. You may also worry that people are looking at you and thinking that you might be acting strangely, fearing that you are making a fool of yourself. You may be wanting to escape and get to a safe place.
4. Anxiety Affects Your Behaviour
You may find yourself making excuses to avoid going out or doing something. Or if you do go out, it may only be small groups, quiet places, or the exact opposite where you may only go to places where you can get lost in a crowd and avoid being alone with people. Going out may involve crossing the street to avoid people, hiding in the toilet, or rushing out of places or situations when you feel anxious. You may sit near the doors in buildings or at the end of rows or as far back from the action as possible.
Some people with anxiety react to being with other people by talking all the time to avoid feeling uncomfortable to not saying anything at all. Commonly, people with anxiety will use ‘props’ before going out such as alcohol or drugs.
Although these symptoms are actually entirely normal they can be very distressing for anyone suffering from them. It is when we feel that we cannot control these or the other mental, emotional and behavioral symptoms of anxiety that we move from experiencing normal levels of anxiety to suffering from an anxiety disorder.
The good news is that anxiety can be successfully treated with the right help, information and support. You do not need to suffer alone. There are many ways that you are able to take control back in your life. It is possible to overcome debilitating anxiety.