Some people just know they have anxiety the same way they know they have blonde hair, or blue eyes or a fondness for chocolate chip ice cream. But for others, the signs might be more subtle — or, if you grew up in a family or culture that places less emphasis on mental health, you may not even know what signs to search for.

Six common signs of anxiety include:

Do you ever find yourself irritated with people or situations — and you’re not quite sure why? Maybe your fingers start drumming once meetings run 10 minutes late, or you shut down in group situations after a single awkward moment. Chances are, deep down, your brain is whirring.

Not certain? Next time you find yourself irritated try to take a moment for yourself. You can even hide in a bathroom stall for some quiet time, if you need to. Listen to your thoughts. Are they whirring? Panicked? That’s a clear sign.

Tiredness and fatigue
Are you super sleepy…all the time? Consider running this symptom by your doctor — but there’s a decent chance your tired eyes are caused by anxiety. Anxiety disorders directly affect sleep, and you might not even notice how seriously. Tossing and turning all night may seem obvious, but if you’re struggling to fall into deep REM sleep because of subtle-yet-persistent anxiety, it can affect you the next day.

Fuzzy thoughts or difficulty focusing
If you spend too much time squinting at your computer during working hours, trying way too hard to come up with a simple word, you might be anxious. Brain fog and associated symptoms — like struggling to focus or short-term memory difficulties — are common symptoms of anxiety.

Tight muscles and soreness
Anxious people instinctively clench their muscles — your jaw might be sore, you might have tense temples and your legs may ache.  It’s a symptom of anxiety.

Panic attacks
No one’s shocked that panic attacks are a sign of anxiety — but do you even know you’re having a panic attack? Yes, a full-blown, high-powered panic attack is pretty hard to miss, but these awful events don’t always fit neatly in their described symptoms. Maybe you’re sweaty and cold all at once, and your thoughts are certainly racing, but you don’t feel a “sense of impending doom” (which is a you’ll know it when you feel it thing). Or maybe you’re super, super nauseous.
Keep an eye on your body’s reaction and your feelings the next time you’re having a frightening episode or your heart is racing. It may not be physiological — it might just be a panic attack.

EAP Assist facilitates a Panic Attack Program which contains a range of resources designed to help you manage panic and agoraphobia. You will increase your understanding of panic attacks and panic disorder and learn the skills and strategies useful for managing panic. This course is based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and has been developed by psychologists and researchers. The program has 12 modules that you can do in your own time and have access to for 12 months. See:

Social avoidance
Are you prone to last minute cancellations? Do your friends know you as “The person who never actually shows up”? Avoiding stress-inducing social symptoms is an incredibly common symptom of anxiety. Maybe you’re worried you’ll say the wrong thing, or that your friends don’t really like you. Either way, it seems easier not to go.

Accepting that you have anxiety can be difficult, but it doesn’t mean you can’t live a healthy, successful life. To help find solutions to your struggles, and that will be one more thing to make your life so much less anxious, contact EAP Assist.