Just as some people feel depressed in the winter, some feel anxious. But how do you know whether your anxiety is a part of life or a serious mental health condition?
“Anxiety is a normal emotion that almost everyone feels,” Lawrence D. Needleman, Ph.D., associate professor of clinical psychiatry at the Ohio State University Outpatient Psychiatry Clinic, told weather.com. “But if it is persistent, and it’s interfering with important aspects of their lives, then people should seek attention for it.”
Although common physical conditions might be easy to diagnose with a number of tests, mental health disorders tend to be more complicated. In fact, doctors diagnose less than half of patients who meet the criteria for psychological disorders, according to the World Health Organization. Medical professionals often underdiagnose because they haven’t had sufficient training with mental illness, Dr. Needleman said.
But patients also need to seek out help.
“People who are suffering might not bring their problem to someone’s attention because of shame or embarrassment,” added Dr. Needleman. “(Patients) might also not recognize what their problem is — they might not realize it’s an underlying anxiety disorder.”
Approximately 40 million adults in the United States have some type of anxiety disorder, and many more might not realize it. Deciphering how your thoughts, feelings and fears compare to the average person can be difficult.
What signs of anxiety disorders might you have without realizing it?
- Overreactions to Stress
Take a major storm event: If you go overboard preparing for and recovering the weather, it may be a sign of anxiety.
“Anxious thoughts or anxiety-provoking thoughts can often have to do with anticipating some negative or catastrophic event in the future,” said Dr. Needleman. “So people with anxiety disorder tend to overestimate these events or catastrophes and underestimate their resources.”
- Difficulty Relaxing
An inability to relax, ease the mind of concerns and constantly carrying around stress could be a sign of an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If stress-reducing techniques work for others, but don’t work for you, a stronger treatment might be required to treat a possible anxiety disorder.
- Easily Startled
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep
- Feelings of Unreality
- Muscle Aches and Tension
- Throat Problems
- Urge Incontinence
Anxiety can cause frequent trips to the bathroom, especially for women, according to a study from Leicestershire MRC Incontinence Study Group. Researchers found that more than half of the study participants with urge incontinence showed other symptoms of anxiety.