Beyond Worrying: 5 Little Known Signs of Anxiety

Thanks to the pandemic, the last year has been a source of anxiety for most of us. But for people who suffer from anxiety disorders, feeling anxious and unhappy is a regular part of their everyday lives, regardless of what’s going on in the world at large. Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adults in the United States, yet less than 40% of those affected receive any type of medical treatment.

At Grassroots Healthcare in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Melita Tate, MD offers confidential, patient-centered care for anxiety, using a holistic approach that focuses on the whole patient’s health and lifestyle for real, effective results. Like other mood disorders, anxiety is treatable — the first step is recognizing when the disorder is present.

Some signs and symptoms of anxiety — like worry — are easy to spot. Other symptoms are more subtle. Here are five lesser-known symptoms that could indicate that you or a loved one are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

#1: Sore muscles

Tightening your muscles is a natural reaction to feeling stressed and anxious. When muscle tension becomes part of your “regular” routine, your muscles become strained and tired, leading to achiness in your arms, legs, shoulders, or neck. Clenching your jaws, grinding your teeth, or simply sitting with your shoulders hunched up can lead to headaches and significant muscle pain in your neck, upper back, and shoulders. Some people with anxiety wind up experiencing muscles twinges or twitches as a result of being in a near-continual state of strain. 

#2: Fidgeting

If you’re feeling anxious, it can be really hard to relax. That means when you do have some spare time, you may find yourself filling in that time with pointless fidgeting or little tasks that could easily be postponed in favor of some much-needed down time. Many people with anxiety find they keep one part of their bodies in motion — twitching their feet or tapping their fingers, for instance.

#3: Stomach problems

Anxiety can have a big effect on your digestive system. When your body releases chemicals associated with anxiety, those chemicals can interfere with normal digestion, resulting in symptoms like bellyache, nausea, cramps, diarrhea, bloating, or even irritable bowel syndrome. Depending on how anxiety affects you, you might experience a decrease in your appetite or you might want to eat more than usual (a reaction sometimes referred to as “stress eating”).

#4: Feeling faint or dizzy

There’s a strong link between lightheadedness and anxiety. In fact, research shows almost a third of people with dizziness symptoms also have an anxiety disorder. People who are anxious tend to hyperventilate or their blood pressure can change rapidly, two factors that can lead to dizziness. Other data shows the vestibular system, which controls balance and dizziness, is also affected by anxious feelings. 

#5: Problems focusing

If you have anxiety, your brain is spending a lot of its resources on worrying — and that means it’s a lot harder to focus on anything else. People with anxiety may have problems concentrating at work or at school, and they may have big problems making even the smallest decisions. Collectively, these issues are known as “brain fog,” a surprisingly common symptom of chronic anxiety.

Don’t let anxiety control your life

While worrying a lot is one sign of an anxiety disorder, there are lots of other signs and symptoms, too. Over time, these symptoms can take a huge toll on your physical and emotional health, your quality of life, and the lives of your loved ones. Don’t let anxiety rob you of your happiness and health. To get started on treatment, call Grassroots Healthcare or use our online form and schedule an appointment to learn how we can help.

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