Anxiety disorders are one of those things that continue to be prevalent in our society. And as black women, we must know what anxiety symptoms to look for in our everyday life. Because the truth is anxiety can look different for us than in our counterparts.
We are often so focused on the version of anxiety we see on television that we don’t take the time to truly understand what symptoms we are looking for and what anxiety looks like for us, in real life.
Anxiety symptoms in the Diaspora
As a black woman and a woman of Haitian descent, I think it is important to mention that anxiety can also look different in us based on the culture we are coming from. So you must pay attention to how your culture is giving rise to anxiety-like behaviors and how anxiety may look based on the culture you’re from.
What are the causes of anxiety?
Anxiety is caused by many different things. The three main reasons we experience anxiety are perceived danger, excitement, and working on a project. For an in-depth look at what causes anxiety, check out THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING ANXIETY FOR THE ANXIOUS BLACK GIRL.
Symptoms of anxiety attack
Although anxiety has multiple causes, the symptoms are mostly the same. There are two types of symptoms. There are physical symptoms and emotional symptoms. The physical symptoms are what you feel in your body and are sometimes, if not often time visible to others. The emotional symptoms are the ones no one can see, but you can feel. No matter which anxiety symptom you are looking at understanding them is important to your health.
What does anxiety feel like physically?
Physical symptoms are symptoms we can feel in our bodies. With anxiety the physical symptoms are intense. They can sometimes feel as if they will last for a long time. But there are common symptoms that we should be aware of.
You may feel your heart starts Racing.
One part of anxiety that we have to look for is the racing of the heart. This is usually coupled with tension in the chest and or beautifies in the stomach, along with shortness of breath.
You may feel yourself start Sweating.
Another part of anxiety is sweating profusely. Sweating is a reaction that we have when the adrenaline has been released. So if you find that your palm gets sweaty, that sweat may be a sign of anxiety.
You may feel your body starts to tremors and twitches.
Tremors and twitches are part of the fight-flight-or freeze reaction to perceived danger and fear. Your body will tighten up and prepare itself to face a threat or fear perceived through your anxiety.
You may get headaches.
Headaches are prevalent in stressful situations and in situations of high anxiety. You may find yourself having tension headaches and/or migraines. All of this is because of the serotonin levels in your system.
You may go to the bathroom a lot.
A symptom of anxiety that people often overlook is gastrointestinal symptoms. During high anxiety situations and/or when you are having an anxiety attack, you may find yourself going to the bathroom a lot. It is not uncommon if you find yourself with an upset stomach, frequent urination, or diarrhea.
You may find yourself with compulsions.
Compulsions are a common symptom of anxiety. You may find yourself washing your hands. You may find yourself wanting to clean and become obsessed with things staying clean. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but your body’s way of coping with anxiety and trying to ease it.
You may get dizzy and lightheaded.
When you have anxiety, you may find yourself feeling dizzy or lightheaded. Keep in mind that feeling dizzy and/or lightheaded is more common in pain attacks, a form of anxiety disorder. But it occurs with anxiety as a whole. It is typically caused by breathing issues, so watching your breathing is essential.
You may become restless.
Another anxiety symptom is restlessness. You may find yourself pacing the room, being unable to sit still, needing to go for a walk, and so much more. The adrenaline in your system is made to help you move, so when it is not going anywhere, you will find yourself feeling restless as your body needs you to move.
You may get tired
Getting tired after, before, and during anxiety is very typical. Anxiety can cause a hormonal rush that leaves you feeling tired and fatigue. If you have chronic anxiety, then fatigue may come with it.
You may want to have sex.
Having a low or higher sex drive is dependent on the person. However, having an anxiety disorder or anxiety changes the game. Because the hormones are being released into your system, you find yourself wanting to release them, and sex may be one way, or you may have no desire for it. No matter which one you have anxiety does have the ability to affect your sex drive.
You may get sick
It turns out having chronic anxiety has the ability to lower your immune system and make you sick. You may become more prone to sicknesses such as the flu or the common cold. The prolonged exposure to adrenaline and other hormones in your system can make you sick.
You may get nightmares.
Nightmares are common symptoms of anxiety. Nightmares are common in anxiety because anxiety affects the mind. Especially when trauma is involved and that the trigger for the anxiety is a traumatic event. This is most likely to happen if you are also diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
You may have trouble concentrating.
Many people who have anxiety find it hard to concentrate on things, especially if the anxiety is strong. They become preoccupied with the thoughts and emotions that come with the anxiety. This is quite common in those who have panic attacks and chronic anxiety.
Your speech may be slow.
Slurred speech is common in those who have an anxiety disorder epically panic attacks. It is not uncommon for those who have chronic anxiety to have slurred speech, lose control of their speech, and are often incoherent.
What are the emotional symptoms of anxiety?
Emotional symptoms of anxiety are often overlooked. But anxiety can and does affect you emotionally. Understanding what some of those emotional responses are is beneficial to understanding and better grasping your anxiety.
You may feel irritable and/or on edge.
Being irritable and/or on edge is very prevalent in the black community and is often an indicator of anxiety. The so-called “angry black girl” syndrome might be an emotional response to anxiety. It is definitely something that you should consider as you discuss your anxiety and learn how to manage it.
You may find yourself avoiding people.
Anxiety is one of those mental health disorders that can suck the joy out of being around others. So, you might find yourself being a loner and wanting to be alone. That is okay. It does not mean you don’t like people. It just means you need space to be alone and work on your anxiety. Also, it is a way for you to avoid those who cause the anxiety and triggers you. But no matter why you do it, it is a symptom of anxiety that you need to look at for.
You may find yourself avoiding places.
The main reason you might find yourself wanting to avoid places if you have an anxiety disorder is to protect yourself. If the place reminds you of the pain and/or trauma that you experienced, you will try to avoid it.
You may find yourself crying.
People often find themselves doing this when they have chronic anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Crying is a freeing way and the body’s way of expressing emotions. Crying is not always a negative response to emotions but can be a positive one. Although it is under the emotional symptoms of anxiety is is also a physical manifestation of emotional symptoms depending on why it is happening.
You may participate in self-disparaging remarks.
Those who have anxiety tend to participate in the self-disparaging remarks. These self-disparaging remarks are symptoms of those who specifically are diagnosed with Generalized anxiety disorder.
You may find yourself getting angry.
Anger is one of the most acceptable emotions in our society outside of happiness. However, the feeling of anger is a symptom of anxiety that is often overlooked. The emotion of anger is not bad, but it is often hard to manage when it is coupled with other things such as anxiety.
What are the worst symptoms of anxiety
A loaded question that is always asked is what are the worst symptoms of anxiety? It is a loaded question because there is no specific answer. The severity of symptoms depends on the person and what they deem to be severe and worst. However, there are symptoms of anxiety that are considered to be more powerful than others. These symptoms are common in those diagnosed with anxiety disorders and with severe chronic anxiety and panic disorders.
These symptoms are the same as those above but are listed as follows.
- Fast heart rate and rapid breathing.
- Trembling and feeling weak in the knees.
- Being unable to move or run away.
- Feelings of terror or hopelessness.
- Chest tightness or chest pain.
- Severe trouble breathing with a fear of choking.
- Hot flashes or chills.
- A sense of unreality (like being in a dream).
- Fear of losing control or going crazy.
- Fear of dying.