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suffering with anxiety

As many as one if four Australians suffer with anxiety, and although it can be a serious and ongoing mental health concern, it can come and go over the years. Whilst depression, anxiety and a number of other common mental health concerns have become more widely recognised and understood in recent years, there are still many Australians who suffer with these conditions either without realising, or without seeking treatment.

It is normal for all of us to feel anxious sometimes, and anxiety in small doses is a part of life for most people. When dealing with a heavy workload, or having to speak publicly, for example, many of us will feel anxious. However, once anxiety becomes a regular fixture in your life, it can be debilitating.

Anxiety is one mental health concern in particular which is often overlooked by sufferers and by the friends, family and colleagues of sufferers, and explained away as a number of other more minor concerns. Here, we take a look at six of the most common signs that you, or someone you know, might be suffering with anxiety.

Many people mistake anxiety for your average, garden-variety stress. Feeling frazzled, and having trouble managing daily tasks can be seen as a sign that someone is just busy, and feeling a little overwhelmed. In fact, today’s hectic lifestyle and societal standards can often unwittingly encourage stress, and many people feel that unless they’re constantly ‘under the pump’, they’re not working hard enough. On the contrary, if you’re feeling stressed more regularly that you used to, and stress tends to be a constant presence in your life, you may be suffering with anxiety.

Difficulty sleeping is a warning sign for a range of mental and physical health concerns and yet, once again, it is often explained away as something more minor like ‘stress’. If you’ve been having trouble sleeping for more than a few nights in a row, it could be a sign that you’re suffering from anxiety. Irregular sleep, for someone who suffers with anxiety, can mean:

  • Difficulty getting to sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep throughout the night
  • Waking early, and feeling immediately worried/stressed/anxious
  • The mind not being able to ‘shut down’ and running through worrying scenarios
  • Feeling tired after waking
  • Feeling tired throughout the day as a result of too little rest

If you’ve been struggling to get a good night’s rest, and it is becoming a regular problem, you may be suffering with anxiety, and it’s time to seek some help.

It stands to reason that those who are not getting an adequate amount of sleep would feel tired throughout the day, although tiredness is not solely a result of poor sleep. Lethargy, or a constant state of fatigue, can be caused by chronic anxiety. Whether or not you manage to get enough sleep at night, if you are suffering with anxiety, you may find that you feel tired and run-down, no matter how much rest you get, how well you eat, or whether or not you exercise regularly. As is typical with anxiety, this particular symptom often goes unrecognised, and is thought to be a result of diet, exercise, or other health concerns.

It is not uncommon for those suffering with anxiety to shy away from social events, and this can be for a number of reasons. Anxiety can make it difficult for sufferers to be in public, especially in crowded places, as it can trigger feelings of anxiety and even panic. A lack of sleep, feelings of fatigue, and constant worry or stress (our earlier signs) can all compound, to make attending social events difficult to manage, and just too overwhelming for someone suffering with anxiety. If you’ve noticed that your friend, family member or even colleague has stopped attending social events or gatherings which they once would have happily appeared at, it may be a sign that they are suffering with anxiety.

Suffering with anxiety can lead to a range of changes in behaviour which are often mistakenly thought to be the result of other less serious concerns. Self-consciousness, however, is another possible sign of anxiety that often goes unnoticed altogether. Those who suffer with anxiety might find themselves doubting their ability at work, worrying about their appearance, or even be convinced that they are a burden on their friends and family. These thoughts can lead the sufferer to feel a lack of confidence and can, not surprisingly, make a huge impact on their lives. If you’ve noticed a lack of confidence in yourself or in someone you know, which was not previously apparent, this could also be a sign of anxiety.

Panic attacks are perhaps the most widely recognised symptom of anxiety, and are often an indicator to both the sufferer and those around them, that they are suffering with anxiety. However, what is less well understood is that not all panic attacks are created equally. Panic attacks can present in a range of ways, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing/hyperventilation and increased heart rate
  • Crying uncontrollably, or crying at inappropriate times
  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Feeling as though you are dying
  • Feeling as though you’re having a heart attack
  • Trembling/shaking
  • Irrational fear (or phobia) of an object, or situation
  • Chills or hot flushes
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness

Some of the less obvious signs of a panic attack, such as sweating, dizziness or hold/cold flushes, can be difficult to recognise as being the result of a panic attack. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms regularly, and without another obvious cause for the symptoms, you should consult a professional who can help you to understand your symptoms.

Experiencing any, or all, of the above signs can mean that you, or someone you know, might be suffering with anxiety. The good news is that anxiety can be effectively and safely treated by an experienced psychologist. Find out more about our treatment for anxiety here, and get in touch today.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen