How to Know if You Have Anxiety

Anxiety is an increasingly common mental health condition in the United States and worldwide. It can manifest with various symptoms for different people, but there are some common factors for you to look for. Read on to learn more about the defining symptoms of anxiety, its various disorders, and how you can start addressing them.

Generalized Anxiety


Generalized anxiety is called so for two reasons. Firstly, its symptoms are those most commonly experienced. Secondly, its symptoms are pervasive throughout the other, more particular forms of anxiety disorder. Common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling irritable, restless, or tired
  • Difficulty concentrating and controlling feelings of worry
  • Aches in your head, muscles, stomach, or other areas

Sure, there are days you feel irritable or tired, such as when you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Everyone worries about various problems and issues in their lives. But what separates anxiety from familiar anxious feelings is how omnipresent and overwhelming it is. You feel irritated day in and day out, are tired but can’t sleep, and can’t stop your mind from latching onto dark thoughts.

The longer your anxiety lasts, the more likely you may have an anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety can be a disorder, but for some, it is brought on by particular triggers. These triggers vary, but they can also contribute to generalized anxiety. If you suspect you may have an anxiety disorder, you may want to consider professional anxiety treatment.


There are many situations in which it’s natural to feel anxious and afraid. For example, most people would experience acute distress if they fell into a writhing pit of snakes. However, some people think the same pain level whenever they see a picture of a snake. In this case, the anxiety they’re experiencing is disproportionate to the actual danger caused by the situation. Such a person would have what’s called a phobia of snakes.

If you feel any symptoms of generalized anxiety in response to a particular thing, place, or situation, you may have a phobia. It’s possible to have a phobia of almost anything, from snakes to planes to speaking in public. In addition to extreme pressure, people with phobias tend to avoid feared objects or active problems. They may even experience distress by just imagining them.

Social anxiety is a kind of phobia so common it’s often considered its form of anxiety disorder. In addition to the common symptoms of anxiety, people who suffer from social anxiety may experience:

  • Intense feelings of self-consciousness and difficulty making eye contact
  • Blushing, sweating, trembling, and a pounding or racing heart
  • Stiff body posture and soft-spoken voice

Social anxiety may also impact your ability to go to work or school and create or maintain long-lasting relationships. You may have social anxiety if you feel paralyzed in social situations and actively try to avoid them.

Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder

For many people with anxiety, generalized anxiety and phobias can be persistent but low-grade. This means that while pressure is commonly present, the stress level experienced is relatively similar from moment to moment. In contrast, panic attacks are sudden and intense periods of fear and discomfort.

A panic attack may occur even if no clear danger is posed to the person experiencing it. For example, someone with a phobia of snakes may experience a panic attack when they see a picture of one,

You may be experiencing a panic attack if you suddenly experience the following:

  • Chest pain or pressure and difficulty breathing
  • A feeling of impending doom, death, or a lack of control
  • Trembling, tingling, or sweating
  • Intense discomfort

Panic attacks are unpleasant, but it’s worth noting that not everyone who has a panic attack will develop a panic disorder. Those with a panic disorder often worry about when the next attack will happen. They’ll take active steps to avoid the things, places, people, situations, and behaviors associated with the attack. This worrying mentality can, in turn, bring on more panic attacks, creating a vicious cycle.

Generalized anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks can be difficult to endure. But the good news is that there are ways you can improve them. And, perhaps, you may be able to alleviate them altogether.


Anxiety can be difficult to self-diagnose because looking at your mind in the metaphorical mirror is hard. But one way to do so is to take up a mindfulness practice like journaling. Please take account of the symptoms listed here and write down each time you experience one.

You may want to consider professional treatment if you notice you’re consistently experiencing debilitating anxiety symptoms without resolution. A medical professional may recommend medication options. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) are also very effective at teaching techniques for coping with and treating anxiety.

One of the best ways to exposure therapy is to treat phobias; in particular, exposure may sound like your worst nightmare if you have a phobia. It involves exposing yourself to the stimulus you fear slowly and regularly over time. However, it’s one of the most effective ways of treating a phobia. It can be done independently, but it’s most effective when guided by a therapist. For this reason, exposure therapy is often carried out alongside CBT or DBT.

If you suspect that you or someone you know is having a panic attack, there are things you can do. First, move to a more comforting location if you can and need to. Recognize that you’re having a panic attack, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Cultivating a mindful meditation practice ahead of time in your daily life will help you through this process. Actively exercise, eat healthily, and prioritize getting good sleep every night.

A Long Road, But One Worth Walking

If you suspect you have anxiety or a particular anxiety disorder, your feeling overwhelmed may compound. However, it’s important to recognize that things can and will improve if you actively work toward treatment. Living with and treating anxiety is about taking small, consistent steps toward your goal. It can be a long road, but it’s worth walking, as this is one wild and precious life you have.


Alcohol scholar. Bacon fan. Internetaholic. Beer geek. Thinker. Coffee advocate. Reader. Have a strong interest in consulting about teddy bears in Nigeria. Spent 2001-2004 promoting glue in Pensacola, FL. My current pet project is testing the market for salsa in Las Vegas, NV. In 2008 I was getting to know birdhouses worldwide. Spent 2002-2008 buying and selling easy-bake-ovens in Bethesda, MD. Spent 2002-2009 marketing country music in the financial sector.