Everyone feels anxious at some point in their lives.
Maybe a big test is coming up or a job interview. Anxiety-related symptoms can be completely normal, but where they cross the line into becoming a problem–a mental health issue–many people aren’t quite sure.
When it comes to my own anxiety, I honestly believe I was dealing with it for a long time before I really knew that it was something more than being just a bit worried or just feeling nervous or shy.
With more awareness around recognising the symptoms, maybe more people would be able to identify that it isn’t normal to be constantly worrying about what others might perceive as something quite trivial. There are several more obvious symptoms talked about regularly when it comes to anxiety, and when someone is experiencing anxiety-related symptoms, we might expect those symptoms to surface.
The more talked about nervous sensations are:
>> Heart pounding
>> Feeling warm
>> Out of breath
>> Constant worrying
>> Experiencing panic attacks
>> Problems with sleeping
>> Difficulty concentrating
Nevertheless, there are many sensations that one may feel or behaviours we might not realise are related to feeling anxious. These numerous symptoms, which are not covered regularly in mental health articles, helped me personally to recognise that what I was suffering from was in fact anxiety.
Here are 6 often-missed, anxiety-related symptoms:
1. Feeling tension in the body.
When we feel anxious, it is normal to tense the muscles—usually without noticing. This could be clenching fists or the less obvious signs of anxiety:
>> Clenching the jaw
>> Grinding teeth
>> Biting the tongue
When a person experiences anxiety, this triggers the body to go into fight or flight mode causing the muscles to contract—which is why the muscles tense.
2. Being unable to relax or sit in silence—aka being alone with our own thoughts.
People who have racing thoughts, who overthink, or have uncontrollable negative thoughts may feel unable to sit in silence. They may need to have music playing or the TV or radio on for “background noise.” This gives a focus for their thoughts and provides a distraction from any anxious thoughts. People who experience anxiety may need music or TV on to get to sleep, or may be unable to carry out daily activities without background sounds.
Aside from the obvious lack of sleep due to anxiety and anxious thoughts, yawning is prevalent because it is trying to help the body to take in more oxygen. It helps us get a “full breath.” When someone feels anxious, they can feel out of breath, hyperventilate, or feel as though they can’t catch their breath. Yawning is our body’s signal to the brain that we are able to take a full breath.
3. A nervous stomach.
People who are experiencing feelings of anxiety will notice that on top of the psychological symptoms, they may experience physical symptoms such as:
>> A butterfly sensation in the stomach
>> Stomach ache
>> Flatulence, more frequently
Usually, this is just our digestive system working in a time of stress. However, more serious symptoms could be a sign that something else is wrong.
4. Frequent urination.
When the flight or fight system is triggered, the bladder muscles contract at the same time. This puts more pressure on the bladder, making us need to pee more.
5. Safety behaviours.
These are things that someone feeling anxiety-related symptoms may do to make themselves feel more comfortable. Some examples might be:
>> Not talking much in a group or social situation
>> Wearing headphones in public
>> Avoiding walking past someone’s house that they know
These behaviours usually prevent one from experiencing any anxious feelings. For example, not talking much in a social setting could be to prevent being embarrassed if one says something wrong or stupid.
Anxiety is extremely prevalent in the present day. Many people are unaware that how they are feeling is something that doesn’t have to be permanent—and there are ways of helping us to start to feel better.
If you feel that you are dealing with any of the issues mentioned above, it is important not to self-diagnose as they can also be symptoms of other things too. However, if you are experiencing a number of the symptoms regularly then it is important not to ignore them and to seek help if you feel that you need help.