Anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. While many people are familiar with some of the more well-known anxiety symptoms, such as nervousness, worry, and panic attacks, there are also several lesser-known signs of this condition. In this article, we will explore seven lesser-known signs of anxiety that you may not be aware of.
Lesser Known Signs of Anxiety
Perfectionism is a personality trait often associated with a desire to do things perfectly and avoid making mistakes at all costs. While there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to do a good job, perfectionism can become problematic when it is driven by anxiety.
For individuals with anxiety, the need to be perfect can become all-consuming. They may feel like they have to do everything exactly right, or they will face negative consequences. This fear of failure can be so intense that it leads to paralysis or procrastination, making it difficult to complete tasks or make decisions. This can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety as the individual feels overwhelmed by the pressure to perform perfectly, leading to more anxiety and stress.
Negative self-talk and feelings of inadequacy can also accompany it. For example, a person may feel like they are not good enough if they make a mistake, leading to feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety. This can lead to a negative spiral, where the individual feels like they are never good enough, no matter how hard they try.
2. Digestion Problems
The sympathetic nervous system is activated when the body experiences stress or anxiety, which can cause physical symptoms like a faster heartbeat, shallow breathing, and digestive issues.
Anxiety-related digestive issues can present themselves in a variety of ways, including nausea, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and bloating. These symptoms can be chronic or occur periodically in response to stressful situations.
One way that anxiety can cause digestive problems is by disrupting the balance of bacteria in the gut. The gut is home to trillions of bacteria, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These bacteria play an important role in digestion, immune function, and overall health. When the balance of the gut microbiome is disrupted, it can lead to digestive problems such as inflammation, bloating, and diarrhea.
Anxiety can also cause changes in the way that the body processes food. When the body is under stress, it can release hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, affecting how the digestive system functions. Cortisol, for instance, can make the body retain sodium, which results in bloating and water retention.
Avoidance is a common coping mechanism for people with anxiety, and it can be a lesser-known sign of the condition. When people feel anxious or stressed, they may avoid situations or activities that trigger those feelings. Avoidance can be a useful coping strategy in the short term, but if it starts to interfere with daily life, it can also become problematic.
There are many different ways that avoidance can manifest in people with anxiety. For example, someone with social anxiety may avoid social situations or public speaking, while someone with health anxiety may avoid doctor’s appointments or medical tests.
It can have negative consequences for an individual’s mental health, relationships, and daily functioning. When people avoid situations that make them anxious, it can reinforce the idea that those situations are inherently dangerous. This can lead to a negative feedback loop where the person becomes increasingly anxious and avoids more and more situations.
Moreover, it can also impact an individual’s self-esteem, as they may feel ashamed or guilty for being unable to face their fears. A person with anxiety may withdraw from friends and family to avoid situations that make them anxious, which can result in social isolation.
4. Stomach Ache
Anxiety can cause stomach aches in several ways. For example, stress can cause the muscles in the digestive tract to contract, leading to cramping and discomfort. Anxiety can also cause changes in the production of digestive enzymes and stomach acid, leading to heartburn and acid reflux. Additionally, anxiety can result in a decrease in appetite, which can cause discomfort and stomach pain.
Anxiety can cause stomach aches that are either acute, meaning they happen due to a particular stressor, or chronic, meaning they last for a long time. Due to their potential to interfere with daily activities like work, school, and social engagements, chronic stomach pains can be especially disruptive.
5. Brain Fog
Brain fog can be particularly problematic for people who must perform mental tasks like work, study, or other cognitive activities. Daily tasks like remembering appointments, names, or crucial information can also be hampered by it.
Brain fog caused by anxiety can be acute or chronic. Acute brain fog can occur in response to a stressful situation, such as a deadline or an important exam. Chronic brain fog can occur over a more extended period of time, and it can be a sign of a more severe anxiety disorder.
Anxiety can cause a person to experience constant stress or tension, which can be exhausting. When the body is under stress, the adrenal glands release stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which can stimulate the “fight or flight” response in the body. This response is helpful in short-term situations, but when it is chronic, it can cause fatigue.
Next, it may result in sleep disruptions, including issues with falling or staying asleep, nightmares, or waking up feeling exhausted. Lack of quality sleep can cause fatigue and exhaustion during the day because sleep is essential for the body and mind to recover and regenerate.
7. Less Stress Tolerance Power
When a person experiences stress, the body releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare the body to respond to a perceived threat or danger. Stress hormones can be released even in response to minor stressors in people with anxiety because the stress response can be triggered more easily in these people.
Over time, this heightened anxiety response can reduce the body’s ability to cope with stress. This means that people with anxiety can experience a significant stress response to even minor stressors, such as traffic jams or a minor work deadline. As a result, one may experience feelings of exhaustion, helplessness, and overwhelm.
Northwest Psychiatry & TMS offers a range of services, including TMS therapy, to help individuals manage their anxiety symptoms and improve their overall mental health. Contact us today to learn how we can help you on your journey to better mental health. Remember that the first step in treating anxiety and living a happier, healthier life is realizing the symptoms and asking for help.