How To Recognize Anxiety & Get Help

uncontrollable anxiety

Most people feel anxious at some point. It’s often a helpful emotion because it enables more focus on a perceived risk or danger, allowing the body to react appropriately. But for millions of people who suffer from an anxiety disorder, intense worry occurs even when no real threat exists.

Do you feel anxiety but don’t always know why?

Do you often turn to using drugs or alcohol to help ease this uncontrollable anxiety?

You’re not alone. According to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders impact about 31.1% of  National Institutes of Health, impact about 31.1% of all people at some point in their lives. This recognized mental health disorder puts you at a higher risk of substance dependency and therefore isn’t something you should just brush off.

By recognizing that you have an anxiety disorder and getting treatment for it, you may be able to protect yourself from developing a substance addiction or from relapsing

Learn How to Spot Symptoms of Worsening Anxiety

People in recovery from a substance use disorder must monitor their mental health to ensure it doesn’t lead them down a path to relapse. Here are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety.

Physical symptoms:

  • Increased Heart Rate: Anxiety can cause your heart to beat faster or irregularly, leading to sensations of palpitations or a racing heart.
  • Shortness of Breath: You might feel like you’re unable to catch your breath or that you’re suffocating, often accompanied by rapid breathing.
  • Chest Tightness: Anxiety can cause your chest muscles to tense up, leading to sensations of tightness or discomfort.
  • Sweating: Excessive sweating, particularly in the palms, forehead, or underarms, can be a physical response to anxiety.
  • Trembling or Shaking: Feeling shaky or experiencing uncontrollable trembling, especially in the hands or legs, is a common symptom of anxiety.
  • Nausea or Upset Stomach: Anxiety can lead to feelings of nausea, stomach discomfort, or even gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.
  • Dizziness or Lightheadedness: Some people may feel dizzy or lightheaded when they’re anxious, which might be accompanied by a feeling of unsteadiness.
  • Muscle Tension: Anxiety often causes muscles to tense up, leading to physical sensations of stiffness or soreness, particularly in the neck, shoulders, or jaw.
  • Headaches: Tension headaches or migraines can be triggered by anxiety and stress.
  • Fatigue: Anxiety can be mentally and physically draining, leading to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue.
  • Changes in Appetite: Anxiety may lead to a decreased or increased appetite, potentially resulting in weight loss or gain.
  • Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances: Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or experiencing restful sleep is a common manifestation of anxiety.
  • Frequent Urination: Anxiety can stimulate the fight-or-flight response, which might lead to increased urination.
  • Restlessness: Feeling restless or unable to sit still is a common physical manifestation of anxiety.
  • Hypervigilance: Being overly alert or watchful, even in non-threatening situations, is another symptom of anxiety

Mental symptoms:

  • Excessive Worry: A hallmark of anxiety is persistent and uncontrollable worry about a wide range of issues, often involving hypothetical or worst-case scenarios.
  • Racing Thoughts: Anxiety can lead to a rapid stream of thoughts, making it difficult to focus or concentrate on tasks.
  • Ruminating: Ruminating involves dwelling on negative thoughts or situations, replaying them over and over in your mind.
  • Catastrophizing: This is the tendency to magnify or exaggerate the potential negative outcomes of a situation.
  • Fear: Intense fear or apprehension, often disproportionate to the actual threat, is a common mental symptom of anxiety.
  • Feeling On Edge: A constant sense of unease or hypervigilance, as if you’re constantly on high alert.
  • Restlessness: Feeling unable to relax or sit still due to heightened mental and physical tension.
  • Difficulty Making Decisions: Anxiety can lead to indecisiveness and second-guessing choices, even minor ones.

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Avoidance: Avoiding situations, places, or people that trigger feelings of anxiety. This can lead to social isolation and a reduced quality of life.
  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks or responsibilities due to anxious feelings or fear of failure.
  • Agitation: Displaying visible signs of agitation, such as pacing, fidgeting, or tapping fingers, due to inner restlessness.
  • Excessive Talking: Talking rapidly or excessively as a way to manage nervous energy or distract from anxious thoughts.
  • Difficulty Sleeping: Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns due to racing thoughts and anxious feelings, or waking up frequently during the night.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: Engaging in repetitive, ritualistic behaviors, such as counting, tapping, or arranging objects, to reduce anxiety.

When you’re experiencing symptoms like these, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. That’s especially true when you don’t seem to have anything to “worry about,” as friends or family may tell you.

Anxiety disorders coupled with substance use disorders can also lead to symptoms such as:

  • Feeling the need to have a drink even though you’ve been sober for a long time.
  • Thoughts of hanging out with old friends and using your favorite substances.
  • Reminiscing about your past use, as if that was a positive or pleasant time. 
  • Feeling out of control and searching for any substance that can help.

Take control of anxiety now. Doing so could help you avoid relapse.

What to Do When You Feel Anxious

Having a go-to person to call when you are feeling anxious can be very helpful. It may enable you to take the first step towards getting professional help. Talking to others will help you realize that chronic anxiety is not normal, and using a substance is not going to help; in fact, it will only make things much worse. 

Here’s what to do.

  • Try to reflect on what is really happening. Is there a specific situation that is causing anxiety? Can you address it? Or is the anxiety unattached to any real problem? 
  • Turn to a friend who supports you and can help you take the next steps of seeking professional help from a doctor or therapist. 
  • Contact your treatment center to get help. Prevention of relapse is far more effective than dealing with the relapse after it occurs.
  • Do something to distract yourself until you can get help, such as watching TV or going for a walk. 

Anxiety disorder does not just go away. You cannot just wait it out. Instead, be proactive in getting help for the way you are feeling right now.

The Ranch at Dove Tree Can Help You

With a welcoming, home-like setting and 24/7 available support, The Ranch at Dove Tree in Lubbock, TX, offers the guidance you need when dealing with mental health disorders and addiction. Contact us today.