If you’re unable to control these symptoms naturally, it’s time to consider more potent options.
Welcome to life on Planet Earth, where everybody gets nervous and worried now and then. That’s common—and it can sometimes be easily controlled with talk therapy or strategies like exercise or meditation.
But if anxiety is your constant companion, it might be time to consult a therapist who understands anxiety.
When you often find anxiety is interfering with your daily life, you’ve got a problem. Anxiety is one of the most difficult emotions to cope with and if you feel that you are continuously anxious then it’s a good idea to seek professional help.
Here are seven signs that you may benefit from a new approach.
- You’re Perpetually Nervous and on Edge
If you feel edgy almost every day, it’s a good idea to seek help. There are great antianxiety medications but talk therapy will sometimes do the trick.
However, if you often feel like you’re standing at the edge of a cliff—your heart racing, palms sweating, feeling like you might faint—you could be having panic attacks. In that case, find a professional who can explain what is happening to you.
Whereas talk therapy is effective for some people with anxiety, others may require prescription meds to treat it.
- You Avoid Things That Are Good for You
Worried about giving a presentation, getting on a plane, or even leaving the house?
If you’re anxiously imagining all of the things that could go wrong, and avoiding the things that scare you, anxiety is holding you back.
You could miss out on a promotion because you’re afraid to travel to a conference. Or you might avoid an uncomfortable conversation with a significant other that could improve your relationship.
Instead of avoiding conflict, it is possible to reduce anxiety by getting more comfortable with it. Behaviors that we learn as little kids, such as not talking back to our parents can stick and our brains don’t always realize that now we’re adults. So those fears we learn when we’re a child can still be at work when we’re grown up.
- You Toss and Turn Every Night
It’s a vicious cycle: You can’t fall asleep because you’re anxious—and you’re exhausted the next day, which makes you even more anxious.
For our ancestors, late-night anxiety was a survival technique—they had to sleep with one eye open to spot the tiger lurking beyond the campfire. But if you’re worrying about money, a pounding heart won’t help you pay the mortgage.
A great solution for run-of-the-mill insomnia: exercise. It promotes better sleep and also helps you calm down in the moment. In addition, deep breathing resets your anxiety response.
But if you dread darkness because you know there will be no rest for you, talk to your doctor, who can refer you to a qualified therapist. Be sure to ask about being tested with the Genomind Genecept Assay®, which helps your clinician understand if a drug may work for you before you even try it.
- You Have Mysterious Aches and Pains
One of your body’s ways of coping with stress is to tighten your muscles and get poised to fend off an attack. You may find yourself clenching your jaw or hunching your shoulders, getting ready to strike.
No wonder you’re constantly achy or in pain. Mindfulness, relaxation exercises, and yoga can help make your anxiety—and those aching muscles—disappear. But if those solutions don’t ease your symptoms, you may not be successfully controlling your anxiety.
Talk to your doctor or therapist to determine what’s causing them—and find the right remedies.
- You Have a Permanent Bellyache
When you were a kid, your mom thought you were faking it if you got sick on the day of your math test. Turns out, your upset stomach and test anxiety were probably related. The microbiome inside your gut has trillions of microbes that help digest your food—and also protect you against bacteria that can cause health problems.
“People with anxiety tend to have distorted microbiomes,” says Dr. Gerard Mullin, M.D., author of The Gut Balance Revolution. “Your gut and your brain are definitely linked.”
Scientists at University College Cork in Ireland showed that persistent stomach problems often contribute to stress-related issues like depression and anxiety. And another recent study showed that people experiencing panic attacks were four to six times more likely to have irritable bowel syndrome. Antianxiety medications can help with both.
With gut troubles—as with other health concerns—frequency matters. “When gut problems transform from rare to frequent or even daily, or when they go from mildly uncomfortable to noticeably annoying, it’s time to call your doctor,” says Mullin.
- You Work Hard But Get Nothing Done
You know that scattered feeling: Your thoughts are all over the place, you can’t concentrate, and you find yourself wasting lots of time. You’ve got things to do, but you can’t settle down and get them done.
That’s because anxiety triggers your body’s stress response, which can affect the short-term learning and concentration areas of your brain. In a study at the University of London, researchers found that anxious people took longer to read a story and do simple math problems.
That extra time is one of the “hidden costs” of anxiety. If that rings a bell for you, talk therapy or medication may be good options.
- You Regularly Fly Off the Handle
Do you find yourself getting annoyed or irritated by the smallest little things? If it happens a lot, it’s a pretty likely sign of anxiety. Researchers at Concordia University recently found that there’s a reason for the link. According to the researchers, when a situation is ambiguous, and the outcome could be good or bad, anxious individuals tend to assume the worst. That results in heightened anxiety.
Calming your anxious thoughts—naturally or with an assist from an antianxiety med prescribed by a health care professional—can improve your mood and relationships.