Why Am I Always On Edge? Understanding and Dealing With Anxiety
We’ve all experienced feelings of anxiety at some point. Maybe you’ve felt chest pain before an important exam or noticed your hands getting sweaty before a first date. Sometimes, anxiety comes and goes, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. For other people, these feelings of anxiety can disrupt everyday life.
We feel anxious when our body’s fight-or-flight response is activated, preparing us mentally and physically to deal with perceived danger. Anxiety disorders keep us on permanent high alert, leading to anxiety symptoms in response to ordinary events.
It’s essential to understand your symptoms whether you’re experiencing occasional anxiety or constantly feeling on edge. It can be harder to seek treatment when you don’t know what’s going on with your mental health.
Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety
It’s important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. For most people, anxiety typically involves a combination of psychological and physical symptoms, including:
- Nervousness, restlessness, or feeling tense
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shortness of breath or rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
- Trembling, shaking, or muscle twitching
- Sleeping problems, such as insomnia
- Digestive issues, such as nausea
- Weakness, lethargy, or constantly feeling tired
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Sometimes, anxiety can cross the line into a diagnosable anxiety disorder. Some common types of anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Selective mutism
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety disorders often co-occur with other mental health conditions, such as substance abuse and mood disorders. If you have experienced a traumatic event, excessive anxiety can persist over time, disrupting your ability to cope with stressful situations.
What To Do If You’re Living With Excessive Anxiety
Between navigating psychological and physical symptoms, it’s not always easy to tell when excessive anxiety is a medical problem or a bad day. If left unchecked, anxiety may not go away, and symptoms could worsen over time. If you think you might have a diagnosable mental disorder, it’s essential to seek treatment early on.
Some signs you should seek professional help for anxiety include:
- You constantly feel overwhelmed or feel like the world is moving too fast around you to catch your breath.
- You’re depressed, using alcohol or drugs to cope, or having other mental health concerns.
- You’re experiencing unexplained physical symptoms, such as muscle aches, sleeping problems, or a racing heartbeat.
- You feel like you can’t turn off your thoughts, or you feel as though you’re worrying so much that it interferes with your daily life.
- You’re withdrawing from social interactions and activities you used to enjoy.
- You’re experiencing panic attacks, persistent negative self-talk, or perfectionism.
Treatment Options for Anxiety Disorders
Living with an anxiety disorder can feel exhausting, but help is available. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable with therapy, medications, or a combination of both. Some effective treatment options for anxiety disorders include:
- Therapy: Even if you don’t have a diagnosable anxiety disorder, therapy sessions create a safe space to be vulnerable, express your thoughts and feelings, and navigate your mental health. Research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic psychotherapy are effective treatments for anxiety and co-occurring mental disorders, helping clients identify problematic thoughts and replace them with more positive ones.
- Medications: If physical symptoms disrupt your daily life, your mental health provider may recommend medication. Common medications used to treat anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and benzodiazepines.
- Physical exams: Because the symptoms of anxiety disorders often mimic those of medical conditions, it’s important to schedule regular check-ups with your primary care provider to rule out any underlying medical conditions.
- Lifestyle changes: Getting enough sleep, practicing mindfulness meditation, eating a balanced diet, and incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can help you feel your best. In turn, healthy lifestyle changes are essential to building resilience and coping with the symptoms of anxiety.
Compassionate, Data-Driven Therapy for Anxiety
Therapy can help you jumpstart your journey toward mental wellness, identify the root of your anxiety, and talk openly and honestly about your thoughts and feelings. Because therapy is a deeply personal experience, it’s essential to find the right therapist for anxiety and mental health needs, and our practice utililizes data-driven technolgy to ensure you have options for a therapist who’s a good match for your needs.
Searching for a therapist can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. To find the right fit, reach out to a therapist through the Berkshire Therapy Group. Whether you’re starting therapy for the first time or searching for a new therapist, we’ll connect you to a supportive therapist with years of experience. One of our licensed therapists will help you explore your treatment options and start feeling better.