Health and Wellness

Serious Problem or Just Nerves? How to Know if You Have Anxiety

Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHCby Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC
Serious Problem or Just Nerves? How to Know if You Have Anxiety

Reviewed by Kevin Stephens, MD.

Anxiety is a normal emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It's a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease. However, for some people, anxiety can become a serious problem that interferes with their daily life.

If you're feeling anxious, it's important to know the difference between everyday anxiety and a more serious condition. 

Here Are Some Things to Watch Out for:

Changes in your behavior: If you're starting to avoid certain situations or activities because of anxiety, it could be a sign of a problem. For example, you might avoid going to work, school, or social events. You might also start to avoid driving or using public transportation.

Changes in your physical health: Anxiety can also cause physical symptoms, such as:

  • A racing heart

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

Changes in your mood: Anxiety can also cause changes in your mood, such as:

  • Feeling restless or irritable

  • Having trouble concentrating

  • Feeling tired

  • Feeling hopeless or worthless

Changes in your sleep: Anxiety can also disrupt your sleep. You might have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You might also wake up feeling tired.

If you're experiencing any of these changes, it's important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you determine if you have anxiety and, if so, what treatment is right for you.

How Anxiety Might Look Different in Children vs. Adults

Anxiety can look different in children than it does in adults. Some common signs of anxiety in children include:

  • Bedwetting

  • Nightmares

  • Separation anxiety

  • Fear of the dark or of animals

  • Clinging to parents

  • Refusing to go to school

  • Frequent stomachaches or headaches

  • Acting out or aggressive behavior

If you're concerned that your child might have anxiety, it's important to talk to their pediatrician. They can help you assess your child's symptoms and recommend treatment options.

Signs of Anxiety in Adults

Some common signs of anxiety in adults include:

  • Feeling restless or irritable

  • Having trouble concentrating

  • Feeling tired

  • Feeling hopeless or worthless

  • Having trouble sleeping

  • Having a racing heart

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Shortness of breath

  • Nausea

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Muscle tension

  • Trouble controlling worry

  • Avoiding certain situations or activities because of anxiety

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you determine if you have anxiety and, if so, what treatment is right for you.

When to Seek Help for Anxiety

If you're experiencing anxiety, it's important to seek help if:

  • The anxiety is interfering with your daily life.

  • The anxiety is causing you significant distress.

  • The anxiety is preventing you from doing things you enjoy.

  • The anxiety is causing physical symptoms that are interfering with your health.

  • You have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

It’s important to know that you don’t have to wait for a crisis to seek support or help for your anxiety. Early intervention can often lead to better outcomes.  

How to Address Anxiety

There are a number of things you can do to address anxiety, including:

  • Talk to a therapist or counselor. A therapist can help you understand your anxiety and develop coping mechanisms. 

  • Take medication. Medication can be helpful for some people with anxiety. You can schedule an appointment with a psychiatrist for an evaluation or medication.

  • Practice relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help reduce anxiety.

  • Move regularly. Daily movement is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety if you are able bodied. Research shows that daily movement can be a protective factor for your mental health. 

  • Make lifestyle changes. Making changes to your lifestyle, such as getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol, can help reduce anxiety.

A 2-Minute Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

If you're feeling anxious, try this 2-minute breathing exercise:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.

  2. Close your eyes.

  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose.

  4. Hold your breath for a few seconds.

  5. Slowly exhale through your mouth.

  6. Repeat steps 3-5 for 2 minutes.

This exercise can help to calm your body and mind and reduce anxiety.

Summary and Next Steps

Anxiety is a common challenge that can affect people of all ages. If you're experiencing anxiety, it's important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you determine if you have anxiety and you can develop a treatment plan together.

Juno now offers virtual therapy for all New Yorkers! I'm Kate Rosenblatt, MA, LPC, LMHC, mental health therapist and care manager here at Juno and I'm accepting virtual patients in New York today. Book your appointment online to meet me and get the support you need here.

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