It can be difficult to tell when someone is suffering from anxiety.
Frequently people try to hide any mental health problems they are experiencing.
People don’t want others to see their weakness and fear that they will be misunderstood.
Here are seven subtle signs of anxiety which can help you to help them.
Anxiety can make people feel they want to escape or run away.
People experiencing anxiety may find it hard to continue doing the things they used to do.
For example, they may avoid contact with others in many subtle ways such as avoiding public transport or only going to deserted places.
They may also make excuses to avoid social occasions.
2. Change of eating habits
People experiencing anxiety may start eating more or a lot less — it takes people in different ways.
The important thing is the change.
Some people who are anxious eat less because they don’t feel hungry or feel too sick to eat or find it hard to keep food down.
Other people may use food as a distraction from their worries.
They might experience constant cravings for sweet foods or anything that redirects their attention away from worries.
3. Physical symptoms
While we tend to think of anxiety as being something that is primarily mental, it actually has many physical manifestations.
Indeed, the physical symptoms of anxiety can be extremely varied.
For example, someone experiencing anxiety may complain of headaches or stomach pain.
Some people experience a dry mouth and throat, others feel nauseous, others still might grind their teeth or have the urge to urinate constantly.
4. Difficulty focusing
Constant worrying makes it hard to focus.
People describe being a fog, or feeling dizzy or experiencing giddiness.
The swirl of anxious thoughts easily distracts from the task at hand.
It can make doing your job or even carrying out regular household chores much more challenging.
5. Poor sleep
Worries can keep people experiencing anxiety awake at night because they are exhausting.
Imagine drinking a double espresso and getting straight into bed.
With all that stimulation running around mind and body, it is difficult to drop off.
Similarly, when waking in the night, all those same anxieties are likely to come to the fore.
6. Change in appearance
Like weight, the appearance of people experiencing anxiety can go either way.
Some might start to lose interest in maintaining their physical appearance.
Clothes are not washed or ironed, hair unkempt and personal hygiene can suffer.
Alternatively, anxious people can become even more obsessed with their appearance.
People who are anxious are often perfectionists and their appearance is no different.
Again, a change in this other together with other signs could indicate excessive anxiety.
7. Need for excessive reassurance
Anxiety is frequently linked to difficulties making decisions or the avoidance of decisions.
Someone who is unusually anxious may request a lot of reassurance or help with their decisions.
Again, the thing to look for is a change in a person’s normal tendencies.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
→ Get Dr Jeremy Dean’s new anxiety ebook.