Most people will experience symptoms of stress and anxiety during their lives. Based on how severe the symptoms are, such conditions can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. Learning how to identify and deal with those symptoms is, therefore, essential for better well-being.
Differences between Stress and Anxiety
Both stress and anxiety are emotional responses. However, stress is usually caused by external triggers, which are either short term or long term. Examples of short term triggers include, missed work deadlines or an argument at home, while long term triggers are discrimination, chronic illness, and poverty. People under chronic stress experience physical and mental symptoms like fatigue, difficulty sleeping, muscle pain, anger management issues, and digestive troubles.
Anxiety is depicted by excessive, persistent worries that do not subside even when there is no stressor in their proximity. It causes nearly identical kinds of symptoms like stress, including difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, and fatigue. Hence, the symptoms of stress and anxiety are almost the same.
Both mild anxiety and mild stress respond positively to similar treatment and coping mechanisms. A varied and nutritious diet, physical activity, and good sleep habits are excellent starting points for managing these two health conditions.
Even so, if your anxiety and stress condition doesn’t subside even after using those management methods, then you should consult a doctor for better diagnosis and additional treatment. Typically, your psychologist or mental health practitioner can help you figure out the specific anxiety or stress disorder you may have and recommend the best action.
Here are some of the ways to identify the symptoms of stress and anxiety:
Excessive Worrying and Headaches
When you have stress and anxiety, you will likely experience excessive worrying and headaches. The worrying will generally be disproportionate compared to the triggers and will occur while responding to familiar, daily life situations.
The worrying will also occur all the time and be hard to control. It will be intrusive and severe, making it hard to focus and perform daily tasks. This symptom will primarily affect people below 65 years, mainly single persons with low socioeconomic status as well as multiple life stressors.
That constant worry and stress will contribute to more headaches. Most people who suffer chronic headaches pinpoint stressful events as the primary cause of the concern.
Stress is one of the most common triggers for headaches. If you are under lots of anxiety and stress, expect increased pain around your head and neck region and enhanced headache frequency.
Feeling Irritable and Agitated
When a person feels stressed or anxious, their entire sympathetic nervous systems will immediately go into overdrive. This issue can bring about several impacts like sweaty palms, dry mouth, racing pulse, and shaky hands.
These stress and anxiety symptoms typically occur since the brain believes that the person has sensed some ‘danger. Hence, the body starts to prepare how it will react and deal with the stress.
The body will shift blood towards your muscles and away from the digestive systems if there’s a need to fight or run. Besides, your senses heighten, and your heartbeat rate also increases.
Although such effects are helpful when faced with genuine threats, they are draining if the stress or fear is not real. People dealing with stress and certain anxiety disorders are unable to minimize these arousing effects quickly, which means they feel agitated and irritable for longer.
These effects result in anger and excessive irritability. You will primarily feel highly irritable when your anxiety and stress disorders are at their peak.
Fatigue and Changes in Sleep Patterns
Reduced energy levels and chronic fatigue are also some of the critical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Fatigue is all about continually feeling tired and weak. It can be mental, physical, or a mixture of both.
An individual under chronic stress or anxiety will typically keep their body working in overdrive. That constant flood of adrenaline ends up exhausting the body; thus, fatigue and extreme tiredness set in.
Sleep disturbances are also linked to stress and anxiety, with insomnia and poor-quality sleep being the most common problems. The results of a lack of sufficient sleep include difficulty concentrating, paying attention, more mood disturbances, hyperactivity, and increased accident risk and errors.
The other way of identifying symptoms of stress and anxiety is checking whether the person has been experiencing panic attacks. These panic attacks generate an overwhelming, intense fear sensation that is typically devastating.
This extreme kind of fear is usually accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath, shaking, rapid heartbeat, chest tightness, and fear of losing control or dying. The panic attacks may either happen in public or insolation.
That is why people with stress and anxiety symptoms prefer avoiding most types of social gatherings. They feel fearful or anxious about social situations. They worry about being humiliated or embarrassed in public and hence avoid most social events.
Tips for Managing the Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Try these practical coping strategies when you are feeling stressed or anxious:
- Take a break from work and listen to your favorite songs, meditate or learn fun relaxation techniques like yoga
- Limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol as they aggravate stress and anxiety
- Get sufficient sleep to give your body enough rest
- Eat a well-balanced diet and avoid skipping any meals
- Instead of always aiming for perfect results, put in your best efforts and take pride in your work
- Accept that it’s not possible to control everything and put your anxiousness in the right perspective
- Learn your stress and anxiety triggers and look for ways to overcome them gradually
- Share your troubles with family or friends when you are feeling overwhelmed
- Exercise every day to maintain your physical and mental health
- Try and replace negative, anxious thoughts with more positive ones and keep a positive attitude
- Volunteer around your community to get a wide support network
Seek Professional Treatment for Symptoms of Stress and Anxiety
Even though anxiety and stress are normal reactions and emotions, they can sometimes be overburdening. If worry or stress is overwhelming you and preventing you from functioning normally, you should seek professional medical care.
Your primary health provider will likely refer you to a dedicated mental health practitioner. These practitioners may employ psychotherapy or talk therapy as one of the ways of resolving your anxiety and stress. Your therapist will also give you tips on relaxation strategies for better management of your condition.
- CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy is an effective and popular method used for managing anxiety and stress. This therapy teaches patients how to identify anxious or stressful behaviors and thoughts and then modify them into positive ones.
- Systematic desensitization and exposure therapy can be great at treating various phobias. This tactic typically involves exposing the patients slowly to anxiety-inducing stimuli to assist in managing feelings of anxiety and fear.
- A physician may also prescribe medication like antidepressants to help manage the symptoms of stress and anxiety
The symptoms of stress and anxiety can be quite unpleasant and can significantly affect your well-being. If not treated quickly, these symptoms can have adverse effects on your physical and mental health. Therefore, if your anxiety and stress are fast becoming unmanageable, you ought to promptly seek professional help.