Anxiety disorders are a category of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear, where anxiety is a worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events. – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
It’s frustrating because they know and understand that it’s just a misfiring of brain signals, and it shouldn’t be so hard to revert anxiety; it’s exhausting because dealing with continuous, unwanted thoughts can quickly sap energy…energy that could have been used for something else more productive.
As mentioned, as with so many mental dis-orders, anxiety is simply a byproduct of abnormal chemical activity in the brain. Psychologists and other medical professionals remain mystified concerning the direct cause for anxiety. This mystification extends to the individual directly impacted by anxiety’s insistent presence.
In addition, there are also signs of chronic anxiety that shouldn’t be ignored, we’ll also discuss ways that can help someone dealing with them.
(Note: Keep in mind that the sooner the root cause of these symptoms are identified, the sooner one can move forth with a method of treatment.)
Here are 8 signs of anxiety that shouldn’t be ignored.
1. Muscle Pain
Yes, it is possible for anxiety to manifest into unwanted physical symptoms. One of these is muscle pain, which is often a symptom of chronic anxiety. More specifically, it seems that stress itself is a direct cause of pain in the muscles, as stress can cause inflammation. Also, the degree to which one is stressed and anxious can impact the amount of pain one experiences.
Another physical sign of chronic anxiety is frequent headaches. As stress creates muscle tension, including around the head, headaches often result. It is worth mentioning that additional caffeine, such as in coffee or tea, can exacerbate this symptom.
As mentioned, chronic (or any type) of anxiety is a very stressful experience. The stress created from anxiety weakens the adrenal glands, which play a critical role in maintaining overall balance in the body. When the adrenal glands are weakened, fatigue is a common result.
4. Craving Sugary or Starchy Foods
An interesting thing about sugar: it actually works as kind of an opiate that stimulates feelings of calm before it initiates a crash. Sugar is an inflammatory in addition to being a catalyst for weight gain. Those with chronic anxiety are quick to point out that one of their default actions is to crave sugar or starchy foods when experiencing distress.
5. Digestive Problems
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. Moodiness and Irritability
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.
7. Sleeping Problems
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.
8. Focus/Concentration Problems
We touched on this a bit earlier, but an inability to focus or concentrate is an extremely common side effect of someone with anxiety problems. The chemical changes taking place within the brain during periods of anxiety leaves few mental resources to allocate for conscious attention.
Despite the helplessness that those afflicted with anxiety often feel, the condition can be overcome. At the very least, certain practices and behaviors can suppress some of the more serious symptoms of anxiety.
Here are some quick, helpful tips on dealing with chronic (or general) anxiety:
- Eat right – a balanced diet is a powerful antidote to anxiety problems.
- Get exercise – while it may be difficult to get into an exercise routine, few activities are more beneficial to anxiety symptoms.
- Establish a schedule – anxiety has a way of throwing off any attempt at organization. Writing things down and having a schedule can help with getting things done.
- Stress management – there are plenty of free resources on the internet (and in the library) that can teach anxiety-coping skills. Meditation and mindfulness practices are particularly helpful.
- Sleep – getting adequate sleep is not an option for anyone, especially when dealing with chronic anxiety. Natural supplements exist (i.e. melatonin) that can significantly aid sleep induction.
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