How to Identify Anxiety Disorders

June 11, 2024

Everybody experiences tension, anxiety, and stress. It can be hard to tell when everyday stress starts to cross the line into anxiety disorder territory. Anxiety disorders are a severe issue that can lead to various physiological symptoms, distress, burnout, and, in some extreme cases, self-harm and suicidal ideation. When asking the question of how to identify anxiety disorders, there are a few things to consider. These include different types of anxiety disorders, common symptoms, when to seek professional help, what treatments are available, and what are some self-help strategies to use in the meantime.

A young girl in distress outdoors by a tree bringing her hands to her forehead thinking how to identify anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders differ from everyday stress because they last for six months or more.

Understanding Anxiety Disorders

Ordinary, everyday anxiety is generally a response to a specific event or trigger. It can vary in intensity from mild to moderate and is generally not very challenging to manage. The feelings of distress that come with this type of anxiety generally fade away after the situation is over. It tends to have minimal impact on an individual’s life and has only minor physical symptoms. On the other hand, anxiety disorders tend not to be associated with a specific event or trigger. The intensity may be more severe and hard to manage. It lasts for more than six months, impairs daily functioning in at least one area of life, and may bring about more serious physical symptoms.

There are various types of anxiety disorders. Not all of them manifest as insomnia, nervousness, and other well-known symptoms, though some of them do.  They include, but are not limited to, these subtypes of anxiety disorder:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The most well-known anxiety disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, can be characterized by chronic, excessive, and uncontrollable worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. This worry is disproportionate to the actual situation and can interfere significantly with daily life.

Keep in mind that if you feel you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder that you can’t handle, you can get treatment for it at an Arkansas mental health center.

A young woman hugging herself in the fetal position thinking of how to identify anxiety disorders
A symptom of OCD is intrusive thoughts that are distressing in nature.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder consists of intrusive thoughts that are distressing in nature. This is the main difference it has to a similar disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), in which there are also intrusive, obsessive thoughts, but they are not distressing in nature. The individual may resort to certain routines and rituals to keep these thoughts in check. If they do not perform said routines and rituals, they get overly upset.

Social Anxiety

This is a subtype of anxiety that gets triggered around interpersonal contact. Sometimes, all interpersonal contact elicits this response; other times, it is only one type of interpersonal contact or even just one relationship. They may worry about their performance in social interactions being embarrassing or humiliating, which leads them to avoid them entirely. This can end up interfering with daily functioning. It is a type of phobia.


This disorder is characterized by an irrational, intense, and disproportionate fear of a person, being, situation, or place. This, in turn, leads to avoidance, which becomes an anxiety disorder when it impairs daily functioning. One example of this other than social anxiety disorder is agoraphobia, in which the individual is deeply afraid of the outside world and avoids it at all costs.

Not everyone who suffers from the symptoms of anxiety is ready to restructure their schedule and devote themselves to treatment. Luckily, there are programs for outpatient mental health in Arkansas that help you handle the symptoms of anxiety disorders without interrupting your daily life.

The back of the head of a woman bringing her head to her hands while she looks at a computer
How to identify anxiety disorders? Some symptoms to watch out for include sleep disturbances including insomnia, a racing heart rate, and digestive problems.

How to Identify Anxiety Disorders: Common Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

When it comes to how to identify anxiety disorders, pay attention to the symptoms. These are some ordinary symptoms of anxiety disorders that can offer you some major clues as to what is happening with your mental health right now.

  • Excessive worrying you are unable to control
  • Restlessness and irritability
  • Something called anticipatory anxiety, which is dread about future events
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • An increased heart rate, excessive sweating, trembling, or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension and headaches
  • Stomach issues and dizziness
  • All sorts of sleep disturbances, including insomnia, poor quality of sleep, and others
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hypervigilance
  • Racing thoughts
  • Catastrophizing
  • Indecisiveness
  • Memory problems
A young man in distress brings his hand to his head.
Seek help for anxiety if it is interfering in one area of your life or more.

When to Seek Professional Help

Every day, anxiety crosses over into anxiety disorder territory when it persists for over six months, and it starts impairing daily functioning. Anxiety can cause difficulties in one or more areas of life. The moment it starts to have a negative impact on your self-care and personal health (including disruptions in sleep schedule), your academic and/or job performance, or your interpersonal relationships is the moment you can consider asking for professional help.

In the case of a mental health crisis, contact a mental health hotline in Arkansas. Professionals at Time Wellness Arkansas will be able to provide you with an adequate treatment.

A therapist sitting right across from her client as he expresses himself
Anxiety disorders can be treated with CBT or DBT.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Anxiety is generally treated through either Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). CBT will help you identify your anxious thoughts, identify the triggers around them, and the root cause of your anxiety. Then, you will gradually start to change your thought patterns whenever possible.

DBT takes elements from CBT and adds elements of mindfulness. DBT was originally designed for other mental illnesses but nowadays may help more self-aware people with anxiety. It helps people regulate their emotions by giving them strategies and helping them accept the world is not as black and white as they once thought.

The Importance of Identifying and Treating Anxiety Disorders

How to identify anxiety disorders? Everybody experiences anxiety at some point in their lives. Identifying and treating anxiety disorders is crucial for mental well-being. Early recognition can prevent worsening symptoms and improve quality of life through tailored interventions and support systems. Seek professional help when anxiety persists for over six months and impairs at least one area of your life.

For more information, contact one of the top anxiety treatment centers in Arkansas and start your healing process with experts in this field.