Everybody feels anxious from time to time. But the symptoms of someone suffering from anxiety disorder can be tricky to spot as they often creep up on you gradually.

It’s a pretty normal reaction to want to avoid situations that make you feel anxious or stressed. But as your anxiety worsens, you might begin to avoid lots of things, people or places that cause you to worry. Most people report feeling like their confidence in their own ability to manage goes through the floor. And their sense of how dangerous or difficult stuff is goes through the roof. The more you do this, the less time you end up spending with your friends and whānau.

You might also begin to find going to school, uni or mahi/work really challenging. Your constant worry and negative thinking can keep you up at night, leaving you tired and lacking energy to tackle the day ahead. Not enough sleep can often mean that it’s harder to think clearly about whatever’s going on for you.

Here’s what to look for:

Feelings

  • Upset
  • Worried
  • Irritable
  • Unable to relax
  • Have difficulty concentrating.

Physical

  • Feel sick – sore stomach and headaches are common
  • Shaky/dizzy
  • Heart beat racing
  • Short of breath
  • ‘Butterflies’ in the stomach
  • Feel tired all the time
  • Need to pee a lot
  • Find it difficult to get to sleep
  • Go off your food or overeat
  • Get very jumpy
  • Get sweaty hands
  • Feel hot and cold.

Behaviour

  • Lose your sense of humour
  • Unable to decide what you want to do or make decisions
  • Need to perform certain rituals to try and relieve the worries.

Thoughts

  • “Something terrible is going to happen”
  • “People are looking at me"
  • “I’m going crazy”
  • “I’ll get it wrong and everyone will laugh at me”
  • “I can’t control myself”.

If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms (or even just a couple of them, but in a big way), you may be suffering from Anxiety Disorder. To find out more, take the self-test.