When life throws its usual lemons, some of us just give it the “this life, I can’t ‘kill’ myself” approach and move on but there are many people who just can’t help but sink in anxiety’s quicksand. If you’re one of such people, you need to know that it’s no fault of yours as anxiety disorders have a strong genetical and environmental root. anxiety disorder
We recently introduced a new series called Mental Mondays, through which we will be tackling a number of topics related to mental and emotional health. As a part of this series, we will be focusing on topics that are often ignored in Nigerian, African and other black communities with the aim of helping destigmatize mental health in our culture.
So back to today’s topic: how to determine if you may have an anxiety disorder. It’s totally human to feel anxious every now and then but when it starts becoming a way of life and you can’t seem to shake it off then maybe, just maybe, you need to dig deeper to find and resolve the underlying cause.
Especially during times of uncertainty like the current coronavirus global pandemic, people with anxiety disorders might find themselves hyper-vigilant, easily irritable or restless, lacking concentration and having racing thoughts or feelings of impending doom, among other behavioral and cognitive problems.
Anxiety magnifies a situation beyond rationality. Okay, here’s a plain example. We all worry about that stain on our lovely white dress but when you start becoming so restless that you develop sweaty palms and rapid heartbeats because of it, you may need to get help. In order words, when the anxiety becomes more intense than the trigger, then you might have an anxiety disorder.
What is an anxiety disorder?
According to nami.org, “Anxiety disorders are a group of related conditions, each having unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening.”
Anxiety is a natural occurrence but becomes a disorder when it is consistent and spans out of control for the person involved. So, how do you know it’s the right time to actively seek help?
Here are 5 signs you may have an anxiety disorder…
#1. You worry excessively
You would say “…but we all worry about something, how would I know the difference?” Anxiety-related worry is not directly proportional to the cause of the worry and happens consistently over a period of time (at least 6 months). When a person starts to worry excessively over relatively normal issues that it cripples them from achieving daily goals then it needs to be checked.
#2. You have a hard time concentrating
Although difficulty concentrating might be a symptom of other illnesses, it is very common to lose concentration when you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder. In a situation where this happens consistently, the person will eventually become unproductive.
#3. You have uncontrollable agitation
You know that fight or flight mode your body goes into when there’s danger? Shaky hands, racing heartbeat? It’s perfectly normal in the case of a real threat but when a person gets agitated about things that seem irrelevant or minor and can’t seem to calm down then an anxiety disorder is most likely the cause.
#4. Insomnia is a real problem for you
Difficulty falling or staying asleep could be a sign of an underlying anxiety disorder. If your mind would rather admire the ceiling or details of the painted wall when all you want is to fall asleep because you have a long day ahead then this feeling might be associated with an anxiety disorder.
#5. Digestive problems
You know when you feel threatened and your stomach starts to churn? That’s adrenaline relaxing your stomach muscles. Suffering from an anxiety disorder could cause serious problems to the digestive system, issues like; diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you have to make a bold move and seek help. The first step is coming to terms that you’re not okay (and that’s perfectly fine) then seek professional help and support from loved ones. Therapy is always a great place to start as your therapist will help point you in the right direction if further medical intervention is necessary.
If you live in an area with limited access to therapists and mental health professionals, you should consider getting online counselling through telemedicine companies like Rave Psych.
Photo credit: Getty Images / Cover Illustration by Liza Rusalskaya
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