How would I know if I have anxiety?

Unfortunately, anxiety is a bit more complicated than stress. Sometimes people who have anxiety can’t pinpoint what it was that made them anxious to start with, so sometimes they don’t need a stressor to bring on anxiety. If they had to speak in front of their class, they most likely would be worrying about it for days before, or even suffer an anxiety or panic attack.

Take a look at the table below for the signs of anxiety.

Remember though, ALWAYS see a health professional like your doctor (GP) to confirm a diagnosis – don’t assume you have anxiety when it might be something else.

Confidences picture by Kayden Baldock

People who suffer from anxiety have good outcomes if they seek help. People generally find doing breathing exercises and relaxation exercises are of benefit and they learn to manage those pesky negative thoughts. You can manage your anxiety and do things you enjoy! You can learn to manage your anxiety so it doesn’t control you. So if you think you might have anxiety, make an appointment to see your GP. Your GP might refer you to a mental health professional to help you manage your symptoms. A mental health professional can be a psychologist, social worker, or occupational therapist.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Physical symptoms Behaviours Thoughts
Racing heart beat Avoiding people or places or
specific tasks that are anxiety
I’m in danger right now
Faster breath rate Going to certain places at
certain times (e.g. when less
I won’t be able to
get through this
Muscle tension Escape from the anxiety
provoking situation
The worst possible
thing will happen
Dilated pupils Avoid eye contact I need to get out
Dry mouth, butterflies, nausea,
diarrhoea (Digestive slow down)
Not going out at all People must think
I’m stupid
Sweating I’m a failure
Hypervigilance It’s too hard

Anxiety Disorders

There are several disorders which come under the umbrella term of anxiety disorders. Some of these include:

  • social anxiety disorder (social phobia) (avoidance of social situations due to fear of being looked at or judged)
  • panic disorder (unexpected panic attacks leading to fear of them reoccurring)
  • specific phobias (for example, fear of spiders – arachnophobia)
  • acute stress reaction (short-term reaction due to trauma)
  • post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (long-lasting anxiety related to previous severe traumatic events)
  • adjustment disorder (short-term period of distress and emotional disturbance following a significant life event)
  • agoraphobia (avoidance of certain situations where the person feels escape may be difficult)
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) (unpleasant and intrusive obsessional thoughts that are difficult to control often leading to repeated rituals, like checking you have locked the door over and over again) (Treatment Protocol Project, 2004).

Check out this website which has lots of useful information on anxiety including symptoms, tips and videos:

You might like to visit the APP’s section on the menu bar for ways to manage anxiety.

AnxietyBC™ is a Canadian company who develop online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety and anxiety disorders. Their site provides information to help you understand anxiety, as well as resources and tools to help you manage your anxiety. Their organization is also the developers of the free MindShift™ APP, which helps youth and young adults manage anxiety.