Anxiety disorders are not always obvious. Generalized anxiety can actually keep quite hidden. Many people go undiagnosed for their anxiety, thinking that they just worry too much or are stressed out. The symptoms of anxiety can be similar to that of stress. Likely, there is far more happening in the brain during anxiety, as it is it’s own form of stress. Anxiety can lead to substance abuse as a coping mechanism for dealing with the chaos of constant worry. Using substances might bring relief to someone with anxiety, but it will be temporary. Self-medicating for anxiety can be a slippery slope leading to the development of addiction and/ or alcoholism. Dual-diagnosis of anxiety and addiction is incredibly common for this exact reason.
Are you concerned that you or a loved one are suffering from anxiety that could lead to substance abuse?
Here are some hidden signs of anxiety to look for.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety and stress in the body create physical symptoms as much as psychological ones. Headaches, backaches, neck pain, and muscle tension, are some of the skeletal and muscular ways anxiety might express itself. Physical habits are prone to develop as well, such as bouncing the knee, tapping the foot, drumming the fingers, or other nervous ‘ticks’. Anxiety can also manifest internally. Stress and anxiety can cause gastrointestinal issues like indigestion, constipation, or diarrhea. Other physical signs of anxiety appear on or through the skin. Acne, eczema, and irregular sweating are signs of emotional stress.
Psychological Symptoms of Anxiety
The “things that keep us up at night” are causing us anxiety. Insomnia and other patterns of disturbed sleep like nightmares are common. Panic attacks can develop as a result of unmanaged stress and anxiety. It is important to note that anxiety attacks and panic attacks will look similar, with a significant difference. Anxiety attacks sense impending doom. Panic attacks suspect death. Psychologically, anxiety can interfere with the sex drive causing a lack of sexual interest, ability to perform sexually, or even effect fertility.