Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions. In the United States alone, they impact about 40 million over the age of 18 on an annual basis. Some hallmark symptoms of anxiety, such as the excessive worry seen in those with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, are well-known, where others may be a little bit less recognized or expected. Understanding the lesser-known symptoms of anxiety disorders may be beneficial for those who live with anxiety disorders and have seemingly mysterious symptoms that they can’t seem to place the origin of. So, what are some unexpected or surprising symptoms of anxiety disorders?
Types Of Anxiety
First, let’s cover the basics and talk about the different types of anxiety. Anxiety looks different for everyone who experiences an anxiety disorder, and you do not have to have every potential sign or symptom of a disorder to be diagnosed with it. Instead, you must meet the criteria for diagnosis listed in the DSM for a specific anxiety disorder to be diagnosed with it. For example, one person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) may experience a possible (but not required) symptom like sweating, where another person may not, but if they both meet all of the necessary criteria for the disorder, they’ll both be diagnosed. Here are the different types of anxiety disorders currently listed in the DSM-5:
- Specific Phobia
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
- Selective Mutism
- Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia
- Panic Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition
- Other Specified Anxiety Disorder
- Unspecified Anxiety Disorder
Each of these disorders has a specific set of criteria for diagnosis. That said, many anxiety disorders have overlapping symptoms, and it is possible to have more than one anxiety disorder. Most of the time, you’ll be able to assume the basic details of an anxiety disorder based on the name or a brief description of the disorder, but anxiety can come with some surprising symptoms that you may not suspect.
Surprising Symptoms Of Anxiety
Here are some symptoms of anxiety that may surprise you:
Various anxiety disorders list irritability as a symptom. Although this is not true for everyone with an anxiety disorder, it’s common for people with anxiety disorders to find themselves snapping or becoming irritable when they’re anxious, worried, or overwhelmed. Recognizing this as a symptom is important if it’s one that you have because it can help you understand why it happens. Once you know that the irritability you face is caused by anxiety, you’ll be able to acknowledge the need to slow down in high anxiety or high-stress situations and keep it from impacting your interpersonal relationships.
- G.I. distress
Gastrointestinal distress is another symptom that is listed under potential symptoms for various mental health conditions, including anxiety. If you live with an anxiety disorder or think that you might have anxiety and experience G.I. issues, this could be what’s going on. The G.I. issues someone with anxiety or another mental health condition might experience include but are not limited to symptoms such as nausea. It’s also worth noting that various studies have confirmed the link between irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression.
- Body aches.
Anxiety frequently leads to tension in the body, which can cause or contribute to a number of symptoms such as body aches or teeth grinding. Like with G.I. distress, it can be difficult to recognize physical symptoms like body aches as something that’s caused by anxiety if you don’t know that it’s a possible symptom.
The good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, treatment can help. Remember that having an anxiety disorder or any other mental health condition is nothing to be ashamed of.
How Do I Know If I Have Anxiety?
The only way to know for sure if you have an anxiety disorder is to receive a diagnosis from a licensed, qualified medical or mental health professional such as a psychiatrist. However, you know yourself best, and it’s common for people to recognize potential symptoms prior to diagnosis. This self-awareness can help you take the first steps toward getting a diagnosis and finding support. If you recognize symptoms of anxiety such as excessive worry, nervousness surrounding social situations, panic attacks, G.I. distress, trouble sleeping, or something else, it’s important to speak with a medical or mental health professional who can help you figure out what’s going on for sure.
Whether you’re living with an anxiety disorder or are struggling with something else that’s on your mind, seeing a counselor or therapist can help. There are a number of ways to find a counselor or therapist online or near you. You can ask your doctor for a referral, contact your insurance company to see who they cover, or use a website like Mind Diagnostics that can help you find a provider who is licensed to practice in your area. All you have to do is type in your zip code, and you’ll see a range of providers with different specialties near you. Regardless of how you find a therapist or counselor, you deserve to get the support that you need. Taking care of your mental health is something to be proud of, so don’t hesitate to start your search today.