11 Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

4. Fatigue

Becoming easily fatigued is another potential symptom of generalized anxiety disorder.

This symptom can be surprising to some, as anxiety is commonly associated with hyperactivity or arousal.

For some, fatigue can follow an anxiety attack, while for others, the fatigue can be chronic.

It’s unclear whether this fatigue is due to other common symptoms of anxiety, such as insomnia or muscle tension, or whether it may be related to the hormonal effects of chronic anxiety.

However, it is important to note that fatigue can also be a sign of depression or other medical conditions, so fatigue alone is not enough to diagnose an anxiety disorder.

SUMMARYFatigue can be a sign of an anxiety disorder if it is accompanied by excessive worrying. However, it can also indicate other medical disorders.

5. Difficulty Concentrating

Many people with anxiety report having difficulty concentrating.

One study including 157 children and teens with generalized anxiety disorder found that more than two-thirds had difficulty concentrating.

Another study in 175 adults with the same disorder found that almost 90% reported having difficulty concentrating. The worse their anxiety was, the more trouble they had.

Some studies show that anxiety can interrupt working memory, a type of memory responsible for holding short-term information. This may help explain the dramatic decrease in performance people often experience during periods of high anxiety.

However, difficulty concentrating can also be a symptom of other medical conditions, such as an attention deficit disorder or depression, so it is not enough evidence to diagnose an anxiety disorder.

SUMMARYDifficulty concentrating can be one sign of an anxiety disorder, and it is a reported symptom in the majority of people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder.

6. Irritability

Most people with anxiety disorders also experience excessive irritability.

According to one recent study including over 6,000 adults, more than 90% of those with generalized anxiety disorder reported feeling highly irritable during periods when their anxiety disorder was at its worst.

Compared to self-reported worriers, young and middle-aged adults with generalized anxiety disorder reported more than twice as much irritability in their day-to-day lives.

Given that anxiety is associated with high arousal and excessive worrying, it is not surprising that irritability is a common symptom.

SUMMARYMost people with generalized anxiety disorder report feeling highly irritable, especially when their anxiety is at its peak.

7. Tense Muscles

Having tense muscles on most days of the week is another frequent symptom of anxiety.

While tense muscles may be common, it’s not fully understood why they’re associated with anxiety.

It is possible that muscle tenseness itself increases feelings of anxiety, but it is also possible that anxiety leads to increased muscle tenseness, or that a third factor causes both.

Interestingly, treating muscle tension with muscle relaxation therapy has been shown to reduce worry in people with generalized anxiety disorder. Some studies even show it to be as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy.

SUMMARYMuscle tension is strongly linked to anxiety, but the direction of the relationship is not well understood. Treating muscle tension has been shown to help reduce symptoms of worry.

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