Everyone feels nervous sometimes—but if you’re on edge constantly, it could be more than stress and standard worries
You know that feeling you get at the top of a roller coaster? You know, right before the ride plummets downhill? Your heart races. You catch your breath in your throat. Your shoulders tense up.
Persistent anxiety is a lot like that. Except unlike a fun day at an amusement park, you don’t always know when you're going to get to the part where the ride is over, and you're enjoying churros in the sunshine. (Okay, maybe our metaphor is starting to fall apart here).
There’s a difference between day-to-day stress, which may be connected to nerves before a big work presentation or a first date, and anxiety and panic disorders. The former can be fleeting—unpleasant for sure, but temporary. The latter can feel like it might last forever.
So, how do you tell if the bad vibes you’re feeling are possibly an anxiety or panic disorder? Let’s list some of the major signs, according to the experts. There are others, so be sure to read the full lists from some great authorities, including the Mayo Clinic and the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
Here are some key elements to tell whether it's an anxiety disorder or just stress:
Oversized sense of danger
What it feels like: You’re in a slasher movie being stalked by a serial killer.
What’s actually going on: You’re at a party with your friends.
Anxiety and panic disorders give you an oversized sense of danger. Things that might ordinarily give you or someone else a little case of the jitters feel like literal life and death.
Interference with daily activities
Do you find yourself turning down happy hour invites, calling out from work, and even bailing on trips to the grocery store, gym, or post office? Anxiety and panic disorders make it really hard to do a lot of routine things.
If you feel like you literally can’t even, it’s not your fault.
You’re tossing, turning, scrolling Instagram, and wishing you could just fall asleep and get like, at least three hours of z’s. Anxiety gets you pretty keyed up, making it feel like you’ve just downed six or seven lattes before bedtime.
It’s like you just finished the Boston Marathon—except you’re on your couch. There are some pretty unpleasant physical symptoms associated with anxiety and panic disorders, including the feeling of being breathless—and not in a good way.
Rapid heart rate
Similar to the above, a routinely elevated pulse is one of the big physical symptoms associated with anxiety. It‘s like being in a cardio class all day long. Not fun. You may be at home watching Netflix, but you’re definitely not chilling.
Anxiety and panic disorders can tie the stomach into the kind of knots that famous rock climber guy could only dream of creating. You may also notice that it’s hard to eat, which takes a great deal of enjoyment out of life.
Using alcohol to cope
Alcohol is a depressant. So when you’re super anxious, it might seem like an effective solution to calm your nerves. And people use it whether their issue is an anxiety disorder or stress.
But if you find yourself pre-gaming like you used to in college, knocking back one too many cocktails at your office holiday party, or blacking out on a Tuesday—all in the interest of quelling that panicked feeling—this is a sign that something more serious is going on.
This may seem like kind of an oxymoron. After all, doesn’t anxiety typically make you feel almost too energetic? Yes, but it’s also pretty tiring being in a heightened state of arousal for an extended period. And what comes up must go down.
Anxiety and panic disorders can keep you up at night, but they can also make you seriously crash, leading to a feeling of sleepwalking through your day. How tired you feel could reveal whether an issue is truly an anxiety disorder or stress.
Your roommate asks you for a ride, and you're like, "Get your own car, man!"
And you’re not sure why. You like your roommate! You don’t even mind giving him rides. So why did you snap? Persistent anxiety can make you do that. It can create a sense of irritability that makes you have a shorter fuse.
So here's the deal. Panic attack symptoms actually kind of vary. It’s not always what you’ve seen in the movies. A panic attack can make you feel super hot or super cold. It can feel like a heart attack. Or maybe it makes you start crying in public for no reason.
Whatever range of symptoms you experience, the main thing is this: You feel totally and completely out of control.
If anxiety controls your life, seek help!
Anxiety and panic disorders are no joke. If you feel like your anxiety is getting out of control and killing your ability to have a normal life, you deserve better. Get to a doctor or therapist and seek help! Professionals are the only ones who can definitively tell if the problem is an anxiety disorder or just stress.
This condition isn’t rare, and the good news is that there are dedicated professionals who know how to help you, whether it’s through medication, cognitive therapy, or identifying underlying medical conditions that may cause you constant anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to talk to a professional and take back your life!
For the routine, everyday scaries, there are different options
If the signs above seem extreme, and you simply feel like you worry because of the typical day to day—or some stressful but temporary events—that's better news, though not exactly great. And welcome to the club.
At Sunday Scaries, we know how much stress sucks because we’ve been there. Our company was founded by two entrepreneurs who wanted a way to chill the &**% out and combat, well, the everyday scaries. You might want to check out these blogs for some tips on de-stressing and handling some of the routine stuff life throws your way:
- 7 Ways to Outrun Racing & Stressful Thoughts
- From OMG to OM: 5 Anti-Stress Tools You Can Take Anywhere
- When the Workday Just Won’t End: Coping Skills for Stress at Work
- 5 Ways to Squash Anxiety in the Meeting Room
And if you’d like to try CBD to combat the scaries, our CBD products are sourced from the best Colorado hemp and made to soothe your mind. If you could use a little helping hemp hand, subscribe and get 20% and free shipping to your door.