Anxiety is a tricky, fear-based emotion. It takes many different forms, showing itself in different behaviors often in relation to certain situations. Medical News Today defines anxiety as “a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) claims that it is also the most common mental illness in America, affecting at least 40% of adults. Certainly, feeling anxious can be just another emotion brought on by stress, created naturally in the brain. There are some signs that your anxiety may require further treatment and be addressed as soon as possible.
1. Staying at home to avoid feelings of anxiousness.
There are factors that may lead an individual to become a “shut-in” that don’t have to do with anxiety, but when an event in which an individual would normally leave home begins to increase feelings of fear, they may need to reach out for help. This could be a sign of Agoraphobia, which is a type of anxiety disorder causing avoidance of situations that induce intense fear or panic.
2. Regularly using drugs or alcohol to find relief.
A drink every now and then is widely accepted in our culture today, and can be a pleasant way to socialize with friends and family. A person with chronic anxiety however may find temporary relief from their symptoms and begin using drugs and/or alcohol regularly to self-medicate. Unfortunately, the long term effects that alcohol alone has on anxiety can actually increase negative symptoms and lead to alcoholism. Feelings of remorse after a drink is a sign that there is an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, along with the inability to stop drinking once starting.
3. Inability to keep friends.
When plagued with anxiety, it is really difficult to maintain relationships with other people, as it has a tendency to take precedence in one’s life. The constant canceling of plans, avoiding conversations and other social situations, can cause serious strains in relationships.
4. Struggling with eating.
Constantly feeling anxious can lead to poor eating habits, whether it be attempting to find comfort in food by eating too much, or avoiding it altogether. Major changes in weight and the desire to eat can be a red flag and can lead to undernourishment, weight gain, and again, increased symptoms of anxiety. This is just another way that anxiety can wiggle it’s way into a person’s life and control them. According to the the ADAA, for those who are struggling with an anxiety disorder, a co-occurring eating disorder may make their symptoms worse, and future recovery more difficult.