As disruptive as they can be to our way of life, anxiety disorders are not always easy to pin down. Like so many other things, the media tends to amplify anxiety disorders to a point where they seem out of the ordinary — when in fact, just the opposite is the case.
Over 18 million adults in the US suffer from full-blown anxiety disorders. But even more telling is the fact that nearly a third of us have anxiety affecting our lives in some way, even if it hasn’t developed into a chronic problem.
Yet the difference between a moderate form of anxiety that puts stress on our day-to-day routine and a disorder that severely affects our ability to function as an adult human being is much smaller than we’ve been led to believe.
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Should You Take An Anxiety Test?
What may seem like ordinary worry, stress, or fatigue could actually be an indicator that a chronic problem is on the horizon. Fortunately, there are warning signs and symptoms you can look out for.
The following are seven ways to tell if you’re suffering from the kind of problems that would necessitate a professional anxiety test.
1. Excessive Worry
Too often, we as adults tend to conflate the word “worry” with the word “concern.”
Concern means you’re aware of a problem. Worry means you can’t put it out of your head, even when there’s no point thinking about it.
You may find the same worrisome thoughts creeping back into your brain at all hours of the day and night — even though you’ve taken steps to deal with them. Or you’ve recognized that they’re taking precedent over other equally important thoughts. That’s when you have excessive worry.
2. Need to “Escape”
You may find yourself physically trying to get away from your feelings, in the mistaken sense that you can find a safe place where they won’t have power.
Unfortunately, we carry our feelings around with us wherever we go.
If you find yourself in a public place searching for exits or bathrooms, or if you find yourself avoiding spots that have triggered emotional issues before, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
An anxiety test can help determine if you’re trying to physically stay away from your feelings by avoiding crowds, or lines, or cramped spaces.
3. Panic Attacks
Like most of the issues on this list, the panic attack is about a supposed loss of control.
The symptoms are much the same as a heart attack: shortness of breath, heart palpitations, even sweating with chills. Your body is reacting to a physical problem, but it’s one caused by the fight-or-flight reaction you get when you feel you’re in danger.
It’s your body naturally responding to a threat — except the threat exists only in your mind. The world can feel as if it’s slipping away beneath you; it’s a loss of mental equilibrium.
If you feel like your sanity is no longer under your control, or that you’re living with an impending sense of doom at all times, an anxiety test may be needed.
4. Trouble Sleeping
This is one of the most obvious signs that your anxiety has become larger than normal. Not being able to fall asleep until late at night, sleeping only 2 or 3 hours at a time, or failure to get deep, dreamlike REM sleep are all symptoms that anxiety may be affecting your ability to function.
In this case, obsessive thoughts and fears aren’t allowing your brain to shut down, which it needs to do normally every 16 hours or so. A sleep test can tell you if your problem is physical, such as sleep apnea, but an anxiety test can weed out any possible emotional causes.
5. Social Avoidance
The more you find yourself rejecting interactions with other people, be they one-on-one or in large social gatherings, the more likely it is that your anxiety has grown into a life-altering disorder.
When you feel you have a possible loss of control in your life, you may feel threatened, as if something or someone is just waiting to hurt you — physically or emotionally.
In that case, you may retreat into work or home or both, and begin the process of shutting others out entirely. If your circle of friends has dwindled dramatically, an anxiety test could be the solution.
6. Obsessive Behaviors
The term “OCD” gets thrown out a lot, but it’s important to note that obsessive compulsive disorder is a very specific disorder with strict parameters.
You can have obsessive behaviors as part of an anxiety problem without having it lead to complete OCD. OCD behaviors are usually completely irrational, whereas anxiety puts on a cloak of respectability.
If you can’t leave the house without counting to 10, because you’re sure something bad will happen if you don’t, that’s OCD. But you can obsess about your appearance for hours before going on a date — and too much of that is a sign that your anxiety is getting the better of you.
7. Low Self-Esteem
Speaking of which, low self-esteem is a good anxiety indicator, and it’s the kind of thing that we don’t always admit to ourselves. It’s a chronic condition that an anxiety test can isolate easier than others.
If you feel like you’re a toxic person who can do nothing but hurt others, or that you’re destined to make mistakes at everything you try, low self-esteem is probably a factor in your anxiety.
It can start with something as simple as being concerned about your weight or your job performance — but lurking underneath could be an overarching theme of anxiety that can lead to you feeling entirely worthless.
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Know Where You Stand: Get An Anxiety Test
Anxiety doesn’t have to take control of your life, but it certainly will unless you take steps right away to isolate and attack the problem.
All those little ways in which your life has become harder living than it needs to be might be the results of bad habits or bad decisions, or they might be symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
No one is worthless. No one is doomed. And no one should have anxiety issues keep them from loving others, sleeping soundly, and living well. An anxiety test is one simple thing you can do right now that definitely is under your control… so get started today.