Subtle Signs That Anxiety Is Affecting You More Than You Realize

Sometimes anxiety symptoms like racing thoughts, chest pain, or panic attacks are incredibly apparent. You know that you’re feeling nervous, and maybe other people can sense it, too. And if you’ve ever been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you might be able to identify the emotional and physical symptoms indicating you’re struggling.

But anxiety can also be subtle and covert. In some cases, you may not recognize that your everyday functioning has undertones of anxious thoughts. Here are some of the more insidious patterns that may be impacting your mental health.

 Can You Have Anxiety and Not Know It?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects nearly 3% of the U.S. population, social anxiety disorder affects about 7%, and specific phobias affect about 9%.

Even if you don’t meet the full criteria for these anxiety disorders or consider yourself to be an anxious person, you may be under more stress than you realize.

Subtle Signs of Anxiety

Subconscious anxiety is more common than people realize. You may also have low-grade chronic anxiety that affects your mood, feelings, thoughts, and body sensations.

Always Planning and Organizing

Sometimes people with anxiety become hyperfocused on thinking about the future. If this resonates with you, you may feel an internalized pressure to account for all possible scenarios. With that, you also always consider the potential problems that could occur.

This, of course, makes it hard to relax and go with the flow. You may struggle with perfectionist tendencies, and all this planning can cause you to obsess over having a predictable routine. The idea of spontaneity may feel threatening, and when things go off-track, you may find yourself feeling incredibly anxious.

Challenges with Delegating

Do you find it hard to assign tasks to others or trust that things will get done when you’re gone? If so, this might be because you experience anxiety symptoms when you don’t have full control over a situation.

To cope with this anxiety, some people take care of everything themselves. Their daily life tends to be extremely busy, but they appear to function quite well. Inside, however, you might feel resentful, pressed for time, and even more anxious.

If and when you do delegate, the anxiety associated with letting go of control can cause you to micromanage others. This creates a vicious cycle that maintains a level of consistent anxiety.

Frequently Procrastinating

Procrastination can be a sign of anxiety, although many people associate it with laziness or a lack of discipline. Procrastination often comes from the fear of disliking the task or the fear of failure. These fears can be so intense that you delay or avoid the project altogether.

Some people have the opposite symptom. Instead of procrastinating, they aim to get everything done early. Known as precrastination, this refers to the tendency to finish tasks quickly, even when waiting and evaluating alternative options might be better.

Playing It Too Safe

There’s nothing wrong with having a grounded and secure life. But being entirely risk-averse may be a sign of underlying anxiety.

Avoiding taking risks is one strategy for reconciling feeling anxious. Instead of trying something new or facing a fear, you might default to what feels comfortable. At times, this is necessary. But if this is always how you respond to trying new things, this strategy can lead to missed opportunities, feelings of stagnation, and serious regret.

Overly Critical of Others

Sometimes being judgmental of others can be a reflection of your own anxiety or low self-esteem. For example, if you feel uncomfortable in social settings, you may find yourself belittling others (even if it’s only done privately) as a way to compensate for your feelings.

Being overly critical may also be a sign of poor boundaries, which can sometimes coincide with anxiety. Sometimes people who feel anxious around others engage in people-pleasing tendencies even though they secretly feel resentful.

Worsening Depression

Anxiety and depression share similar symptoms and often coexist together. Some people may be more in touch with their depression symptoms (feeling sad, hopeless, apathetic, or experiencing concentration problems), but they aren’t as aware of their anxiety symptoms.

Depression can then trigger chronic stress. When that happens, your sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones that trigger emotional and physical anxiety symptoms. The reciprocal process can, unfortunately, aggravate both conditions.

How Therapy Can Help Treat Anxiety Symptoms

Living with anxiety is challenging, and it can certainly have a negative effect on your daily life. Anxiety treatment can make a significant difference in improving how you respond to fear and take care of your emotional well-being.

Therapy aims to help you better understand your symptoms as well as provide you with compassionate support and practical tools to help you feel better.

Whether your anxiety is obvious, subtle, or somewhere in between, I am here to help you. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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