People with anxiety can tell you how exhausting and frustrating their disorder can be, and the worst part is, finding a cure for it isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. People respond differently to different treatments, and finding the one that works for you is just a matter of trial and error. Even if one attempts a full recovery, totally getting over anxiety may not happen for some people.
Despite all the research and information available about anxiety, scientists remain baffled as to the direct cause of anxiety. Because anxiety can creep up on anyone at any time, we thought we’d make a list of common symptoms to look out for so that you can prevent anxiety before it rears its ugly head.
Here are 7 warning signs of anxiety:
1. Muscle Pain
Anxiety affects the entire body, plain and simple. One such area of discomfort lies in the muscles, as stress can make muscles tighter and cramp easier. People with anxiety can experience almost constant muscle tension, and for those who have lived with the disorder for a while, they may not even notice it anymore. Regular exercise can help to keep this symptom under control, but those with anxiety may still experience muscle tension despite moving their body regularly.
Since anxiety causes the whole body to tighten up, the head is no exception to this. People with chronic anxiety report frequent headaches and migraines, as the tension causes a buildup of cortisol in the body. This stress hormone can cause you actual physical pain, as the body essentially prepares for a situation in which survival is at stake. Our bodies still have this fight-or-flight response, but in those with anxiety, it doesn’t seem to operate properly.
Anxiety can severely deplete the body’s energy stores, resulting in extreme fatigue and exhaustion. If you regularly feel tired despite a good night’s rest, you might have anxiety. Your body is using most of its energy on simply staying alive and avoiding a dangerous situation, so you have no energy left for anything else. Also, anxiety causes you to ruminate over things, which can leave the body and mind feeling depleted as well.
4. Craving Sugary or Starchy Foods
When we experience high levels of stress or anxiety, we want to reach for the first sugary or fattening treat we can find in order to stabilize our body. However, this is heightened even more in those with anxiety, as their bodies feel under constant attack from their disorder. If you find yourself using food to cope with your emotions often, you might have a hidden anxiety disorder. Keep note of when you start to crave these types of foods so you can better understand when and why you use these foods to cope with your feelings.
5. Digestive Issues
Chronic anxiety has been directly linked to poor digestion, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When the brain is “not right,” the digestive system generally isn’t either. In fact, between 80 to 90 percent of the brain’s “calming” neurotransmitter, serotonin, is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. The result is two-fold: poor digestion and inefficient production of serotonin.
6. Fluctuating Moods
When our brain is inundated with anxious thoughts, we have very little patience for things that demand our attention. Note that is obviously counterproductive – it is far better to focus on things that are constructive than to allow anxiety to run amuck. However, for those with chronic anxiety, their default reaction is to “snap” or “lash out” when someone or something requires attention.
This is relatively obvious, but when the brain is rapidly firing it can be quite difficult to enter a state of relaxation. When relaxation is difficult, sleep is as well. It is common for someone with chronic anxiety to be “exhausted in body, but restless is mind;” in other words, they may be more than willing to enter a deep sleep but their brain simply won’t allow it.