Suffering from anxiety isn’t easy. No matter what anxiety you deal with, the desire for relief is always there. Whether it’s social anxiety, PTSD, OCD, agoraphobia, specific phobias, or generalized anxiety disorder, you yearn for a break from painful symptoms.
You’re probably tired of anxiety’s physical effects, such as racing heart, flushing, stomach issues, and insomnia. You’re tired of its emotional effects—running thoughts, panic, living life much less fully than you’d like.
Perhaps your anxiety has grown and become worse over time. It can feel discouraging. If you’re searching for answers and hoping for help, here is some insight into why your anxiety has become worse over time.
Lack of Treatment
Like many mental health issues, anxiety often becomes worse when it isn’t actively treated. Treatment helps you get to the root causes of your anxiety. It enables you to discover solutions and practical ways of managing its symptoms.
But when you don’t treat it, your fears and phobias can run untethered through your mind. You don’t learn to rein it in—you may not even believe that it’s possible to rein it in.
Feelings of anxiety set off the “fight, flight, or freeze” instinct in your brain. These are authentic physiological reactions with deep roots in your nervous system. This instinct wants to protect you; it readies you to respond to danger. This instinct used to be vital to survival when predators were common, and a physical threat was real. Now, though, it often overreacts to the perils of our modern world.
When you suffer from anxiety, you need to learn how to manage this fight, flight, or freeze instinct. It can be hard to do on your own. The guidance of a therapist is often necessary. If you haven’t treated your anxiety, this biological instinct can wreak havoc in your life. Learning how to calm your nervous system is possible, but the longer you’ve delayed treatment, the harder it can be.
Lack of treatment also allows one type of anxiety to mushroom into others. Perhaps you started with a phobia of flying. Over time, as you learned to avoid airplanes, your brain started thinking that car travel was also a threat. Without learning the skills to manage your first phobia, it was easier for another one to pop up.
Like many health conditions, anxiety can be worsened by substance use. This includes alcohol and nicotine, along with illicit drugs. Many of these substances create feelings of anxiety. They can also lessen your body’s ability to handle your anxiety on your own.
Life is stressful. If you suffer from anxiety, you certainly know that. But sometimes life’s demands can be more relentless than at other times. Persistent times of stress can worsen anxiety. When you’re continually facing real-life pressures with no chance to recover, it’s harder for your body and mind to bounce back.
Job loss, natural disasters, divorce, or death of close family members, moves, and child-rearing can place heavy burdens on your shoulders. If you’re already anxiety-prone, the weight of such challenges wears your coping skills thin.
Your emotional reserves and resiliency become weaker. It’s no surprise that your anxiety has worsened over time if you’re in these situations. Seek out resources to help you become stronger and get through these challenges.
As hard as it is to believe, please know that there is hope and help for anxiety. If you’re tired of living in fear, you can find a way out. The sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll be able to find relief.
As a psychologist with over 17 years of experience in anxiety treatment, I have helped many clients move forward with renewed thinking and relief from anxiety. If you would like to read more about anxiety, click here. Or feel free to contact me for more information regarding anxiety treatment.
Many people think that the symptoms of anxiety would be obvious. After all, you would assume that you could usually tell when someone is nervous, or if they’re hesitant to join in on conversations and socialize. However, anxiety isn’t always so apparent.
In fact, many people do their best to keep their anxiety symptoms under wraps. Their symptoms may not interfere with their daily life on the surface, but inside, they’re struggling. This is what’s called “high-functioning anxiety”—it’s like a storm brewing beneath a calm exterior.
People with high-functioning anxiety might seem like they are thriving in the professional and social spheres, yet no one around them recognizes their inner turmoil. Just getting through the day can still feel like a difficult balancing act. High-functioning anxiety is often a way for the mind to try to prepare for a disappointing outcome to a future problem to avoid the letdown that comes with it.
Here are a few tell-tale signs of high-functioning anxiety.
Anxiety Disguised as “Ambition”
People with high-functioning anxiety are often viewed as highly ambitious. But, sometimes, this ambition is just a cover for anxiety.
Inside, maybe you’re deeply afraid that you will lose everything you’ve worked for if you make even a minor mistake. Or you may worry that people will not love you or approve of you unless you rack up prestigious titles and accolades. Therefore, you try to prove yourself through hard work.
The Mind Never Stops
Individuals with high-functioning anxiety might feel like they can never “turn off” their thoughts. They go over the same troubling thoughts over and over again, unable to simply drop it and move on. Even when they know that they should be relaxing, they simply can’t let these thoughts go. They are prone to rumination.
Perhaps, you lay awake at night imagining scenarios in which things can go wrong and how you would handle them. Or you may wake up in the middle of the night thinking about what you said or did yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. Once your mind gets going, it is impossible to fall back to sleep.
If you have high-functioning anxiety, your friends might think of you as the perfectionist of the group.
On one hand, you might be proud of this: you think ahead and avoid some of the problems that your friends deal with, and you’re on top of your to-do list at all times. But you’re also constantly trying to anticipate problems and solve them before they happen. And half the time, the problems you dream up and prepare for never end up happening.
Hiding Your Feelings
Your loved ones think that you have it all together. But deep down, you know that this isn’t true. You’re scared to express it because you worry that admitting you deal with so much anxiety will let people down. And part of having high-functioning anxiety is harboring a fear of being vulnerable. Therefore, you don’t really want to open up. You’re afraid to break the illusion. And the idea of sharing your worries makes you feel like they could come true.
Unable to Relax
If you experience high-functioning anxiety, you may find it hard to physically relax. You might carry a lot of tension in your back and shoulders. Sometimes, you may even notice that your breathing is shallow and rapid when you’re trying to focus on something. And perhaps you grind your teeth at night or experience digestive issues. While these symptoms are not severe enough to stop you from doing the things you need to do on a daily basis, they can easily make you feel uncomfortable.
Do you go through your day pretending that everything is fine—but deep down, you’re mired in anxiety and wish the people around you understood? People with high-functioning anxiety can benefit from therapy by learning strategies to quiet their minds without compromising their drive and sense of accomplishment.
To read more about anxiety, click here. Or feel free to contact me for more information about help for anxiety.