What is anxiety? If someone asks you that question, you’ll probably define it as worry or feeling on edge. Similarly, if you were asked whether it is something you experience, you might answer “sometimes” – for example if you are late for a meeting, or preparing for a job interview or waiting to hear that a loved one has arrived safely in a foreign land.
However, there is more to anxiety than that. The stresses of the modern world leave as many as a third of us suffering from a constant low level anxiety that can get worse over time. And the worst part is that anxiety can creep up on you almost without you knowing, leading to increasingly debilitating effects and affecting your overall quality of life. Here are seven tell-tale signs.
1) Physical pain – Unaccountable aches and pains are often go hand in hand with anxiety, as muscles tense up without you even realising it.
2) Dizziness – if you sometimes feel that the world is spinning and you need to sit or lie down till it passes, this is a common symptom of anxiety.
3) Numb or tingling hands and feet – when you are anxious, your breathing becomes more shallow, meaning the oxygenation of blood cells is less effective. The furthest extremities of the body are the ones that suffer.
4) Dry mouth – no matter how much you drink, your mouth still feels dry. It is an extremely uncomfortable sensation and in extreme cases, can make it difficult to speak.
5) Difficulty sleeping – if your brain is unable to “switch off” and your whole body feels tense, this is a classic symptom. Often you will lie awake for hours, and when sleep comes it will be sporadic or interrupted by unpleasant dreams.
6) Inability to focus – much as your brain seems to be working overtime when you try to sleep, it is similarly leaping from one thing to another during the day. You feel constantly distracted whenever you try to focus your attention on something.
7) IBS – stomach cramps, persistent diarrhoea and other problems generally categorised as IBS often have their root cause in anxiety.
The biggest threat from anxiety is the fact that it can creep up on us by degrees, so recognising the problem in the first place is an immense step towards resolving it. If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, you need to think objectively – is anxiety at the root of it all?
The fact that there are so many factors in the modern world that can make us anxious leads us to automatically go looking for an external cause, but sometimes the problem comes from within. Research has shown that reduced serotonin is a common cause of anxiety, so a natural supplement that boosts the “happy molecule” is a great place to start.
Psychological or mental health is a topic that many people find difficult to talk about, but anxiety is such a common experience, there is no logical reason for not seeking help that is available from family, friends and medical professionals. All you have to do is reach out for it.