4. You experience panic attacks and/or flashbacks
If you experience sudden and unexpected moments of heart-pounding helplessness, accompanied by breathing problems, chest pains, or dizziness, you are familiar with how terrifying and crippling a panic attack can be. Symptoms also include tingling numbness in hands and arms, weakness, and feelings of impending doom. People who experience frequent panic attacks don’t necessarily suffer from an anxiety disorder, but they can be symptoms of one.
Reliving traumatic events (such as panic attacks) is another possible side-effect of an anxiety disorder. Some people with social anxiety have traumatic flashbacks to experiences that may not seem obviously traumatic to others, but which in fact resemble PTSD-like flashbacks.
5. You often doubt yourself
And not just the usual self-doubt most experience, such as Imposter Syndrome or wariness at beginning a new job or challenge. You doubt yourself so much you sometimes double-guess facets central to your identity, like your sexual orientation or an unfounded fear your best friend of fifteen years is making fun of you behind your back.
Winston says such ‘doubt attacks’ are more common when a question has no definite answer. Those suffering from this manifestation of OCD “think, ‘If only I would know 100% for sure whether I was gay or straight, either one would be fine,’ but they have this intolerance for uncertainty that turns the question into an obsession.”
Of course these are the more extreme expressions of anxiety disorder. Constantly feeling self-conscious or as though all eyes are on you in many perfectly normal situations can make it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
6. You dread and avoid social situations
Again, a little bit of fear and uncertainty is to be expected in certain new situations. However, if you find yourself panicking at the thought of ordering meals at a restaurant or having to speak with the cashier at a grocery store, you are definitely suffering from an anxiety disorder and should seek a counselor as soon as possible.
You may also experience dread at the thought of having to leave your home or your comfort zone to an intense degree. You are worried you may find yourself in a situation you will not be able to easily escape.
7. You have chronic indigestion
The stress forced on your physical body as a result of severe anxiety can oftentimes reveal itself in the form of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which Winston says “is basically an anxiety in the digestive tract.”
The relationship between the gut and the brain is a strong one, and it is not unsual for stress of the mind to cause stress in the stomach. This can become a vicious cycle, with anxiety fueling stomachaches and vice versa.
Women often have a difficult time seeking help or acknowledging they need it. However, if you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, addressing them as soon as possible will only serve to alleviate your torment and set you on a path of freedom and happiness sooner. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.