Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder? Identifying Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Are you wondering ‘do I have an anxiety disorder’? If so, you may be considering what the difference is between normal levels of anxiety and the experience of anxiety disorders. While anxiety is a normal, human emotion, and is helpful in certain scenarios, for people with anxiety disorders, anxiety is something that can derail daily life. And, make living out a normal life something that’s nearly impossible.

Do I Have An Anxiety Disorder? Identifying What Anxiety Is

Anxiety is a helpful emotion for those who aren’t living with anxiety disorders. It basically is our cue to let us know that something is putting us in danger. Scientifically, it’s caused by a reaction in our brains known as the ‘flight or fight’ response, which gives us the motivation to either fight for our self-defense or leave a situation that’s putting us in danger.

But, those with anxiety disorders may experience anxiety even when they’re not in danger. And, this can bring about symptoms that debilitate daily life. Plus, as a result of high anxiety, one can suffer from a number of symptoms including physical illness, avoidance behaviors, and panic attacks. The main difference between someone who is living with an anxiety disorder and someone who is just living with anxiety are these debilitating symptoms. To differentiate between the two, it’s helpful to understand what ‘normal’ anxiety looks like and what anxiety for a person living with anxiety disorders looks like.

Normal experiences of anxiety can include:

  • experiencing anxiety as the result of a major life change (moving, experiencing divorce or a breakup, etc.)
  • anxiety that isn’t out of proportion in relation to the situation at hand
  • experiencing anxiety only until the situation that’s causing it is over

People diagnosed with anxiety disorders experience:

  • anxiety at high levels even when no life-changing situation or issues occur
  • overwhelming anxiety levels that aren’t proportional to the situation they’re dealing with
  • fear and feelings of doom even when there isn’t danger present
  • the inability to manage anxiety on their own
  • panic attacks, or bouts of extreme anxiety, which can resemble heart attacks
  • avoidance behaviors to prevent extreme levels of anxiety and panic attacks

Some Symptoms in Those with Anxiety Disorders

Along with identifying the difference between normal anxiety and anxiety as it’s experienced by someone with an anxiety disorder, symptoms of anxiety disorders can also help those who may be wondering, ‘do I have an anxiety disorder?”.

Some symptoms of anxiety disorders can include:

  • erratic sleep schedules (sleeping too little or too much)
  • worrying that never seems to go away
  • having fears or phobias that aren’t rational
  • digestive problems (diarrhea, constipation, etc.)
  • avoidance of social situations
  • needing things to go as planned (perfectionism)
  • uncontrollable compulsive behaviors
  • issues with self-confidence

Do You Still Think You May Have an Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are the most commonly diagnosed mental illnesses in the world. So, if you think that you may be recognizing the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders in your life, you may be living with an anxiety disorder. Fortunately, help through treatment can give you the tools you need to manage symptoms of these disorders. And, develop the skills you need to overcome debilitating symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez

DABPN, DABAM, MRO