10 Lesser-Known Symptoms of Anxiety
Saturday 14th November, 2020
I hope you are well and having a lovely weekend.
I’m sure many of you will have seen the articles all over the news the past few months, due to survey results showing that this already common mental illness is increasing in prevalence rapidly due to the pandemic, and the knock on effects it has had on all of our day to day lives.
So, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on anxiety during this week’s blog article, and talk about the 10 lesser known symptoms of anxiety.
When you think about anxiety, some of the more common symptoms like feeling restless, nervous behaviour and sweatiness probably come to mind. And while they are definitely very common signs, anxiety can manifest in a number of ways, including physical and mental side effects which you might not instantly link to the disorder.
It’s really helpful to be aware of these symptoms, so you can recognise signs of anxiety in yourself and others, and seek/encourage others to seek, help and support.
Before we jump into the list, I thought I’d share briefly from my own experience. I had always been somewhat of a worrier, however when I started a high pressure, stressful job a while ago prior to my work with Ewen’s Room, this quickly progressed into full blown anxiety. I was constantly overthinking, second guessing every decision I made, unable to concentrate, and exhausted.
But the thing is, I had absolutely no idea at the time that I had anxiety! Or, perhaps I was in denial, who knows – but either way, I wasn’t getting the help I needed. If I’d have taken a look at a list like this, there would have been at least 5/6 symptoms ticked off for me, which I like to think would have led to me seeking help sooner. If this article can help at least one person realise they might need a bit more support, then it will have been worth it. Ok, here we go:
1. Digestive issues
Anxiety can trigger the fight or flight response, which means that your body thinks it is under threat. Digestion isn’t one of the bodily processes being prioritised during this response, and so stops working as efficiently, which can lead to feelings of nausea, stomach ache, and even diarrhoea.
2. Cold hands and feet
Now this one I was surprised by, but the science of it makes sense! It’s again down to the fight or flight response, which anxiety can trigger mistakenly. During this response, your body directs blood away from your extremities to your vital organs instead, so that you’re ready to run from danger. There are of course many other things which can cause this, but when part of a bigger picture alongside other symptoms, this could well be a sign of anxiety.
This can happen for many reasons too, such as if you are dehydrated, or coming down with a cold, but it also can be caused by anxiety, due to how anxiety affects your breathing. When feeling anxious, it an be quite common to take shallow breaths, or even hold your breath without realising, all of which can make you feel dizzy or light-headed. Here are some breathing techniques to help combat this
This can be both a cause and a symptom of anxiety, it’s a vicious circle! While it’s normal to strive for a certain level of perfection, or at least being conscientious, many people with anxiety feel like every aspect of their lives has to be perfect. This can lead to the desire to redo things over and over, or spend an unnecessary amount of time on a project to get it just right.
Everyone is different, but this for me was, and still is, the worst part of dealing with anxiety. It’s incredibly frustrating! If you struggle to make decisions, or perhaps think that even the smallest of decisions could dramatically affect your life, this could be a symptom of anxiety. Some people with anxiety actually freeze when they need to make a decision.
6. Brain Fog
This is another anxiety symptom which isn’t talked about as much – and it’s a particularly frustrating symptom to have to deal with. You can have a hard time concentrating, due to all of the activity going on in your brain, and it makes it incredibly hard to be present and concentrate. Meditation, mindfulness, and learning how to exist in the present, can help slow this activity down, and make focusing less of a challenge.
This is definitely one of the lesser known symptoms, but during periods of extensive anxiety, it is possible to feel like you’re losing touch on reality, or in an almost dreamlike state. It’s especially likely if you’re about to have a panic attack.
This can manifest in so many ways – for example ignoring texts, putting off preparing for that presentation, cancelling plans at the last minute. Ironically it can also make your anxiety worse, because then you feel ill-prepared for said presentation, or guilty for letting people down.
Anxiety can make you feel constantly tired, even when you’ve been getting the recommended amount of sleep. We often think anxiety makes you wired, and on high alert, but due to the fight or flight response it initiates in your body at times, it is actually quite common for anxious people to feel fatigued. This is likely due to all the mental energy spent worrying or overthinking, exhausting both your body and mind.
10. Low Stress Tolerance
While no one likes to deal with stressful situations, when you have anxiety, even the smallest inconvenience can feel unbearable. You might also get frustrated easily, burst in to tears for seemingly no reason, or have angry outbursts.
But, it’s not all doom and gloom! There is so much help and support out there ready and waiting for people with anxiety who are struggling. Your GP is a great first step, as they can direct you towards any services and treatments available. While I still struggle from time to time, anxiety no longer rules my life, and getting help was the best thing I could have done. My life is so much happier, and less stressful now I have it under control, and yours can be too.
I hope you found this article helpful and informative. Just to remind you, Ewen’s Room’s Helpline and Textline are open from 5pm-10pm on weekdays and 12pm-10pm on weekends. If you are struggling with any of the issues in this article, or just looking for someone to talk to, please do get in touch. Our Helpline number is – 0800 689 3317 and our Textline number is – 07537 431637.
I thought it would be helpful today to talk about an aspect of mental health support, more specifically, peer support.
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