7 Signs You’re Suffering From Lockdown Anxiety
Prior to the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were over 8.2 million cases of diagnosed anxiety in the UK. Now, however, there are likely to be many more, what with the restrictions, lack of social interactions, and disruption to normal life experienced throughout lockdown.
If you’ve noticed a change in your mental health and you’re not sure what it could be, here are seven signs to help you identify if your symptoms relate to anxiety. Remember, help is available and you are not alone – take a look at our anxiety disorders page to find out about treatment options, or call 020 7580 4224 to speak directly to a member of our team.
Feeling Worried Or Stressed About The Future
It’s natural to feel worried about the future, even when you aren’t in the throes of a pandemic. However, if you find that your worry or stress is causing you to have low moods, or if it’s getting in the way of your lifestyle, it may be a sign of anxiety.
50% of the UK population has found their sleep to be more disturbed than usual since lockdown began. This could include trouble falling asleep, waking up in the night, and suffering from bad dreams. These could be due to anxiety provoked by lockdown; for example, you might have trouble falling asleep because you’re having anxious thoughts about health or finances.
Not only do disturbed sleeping patterns cause tiredness but you can feel tired if you’ve exhausted yourself from worrying about lockdown or the COVID-19 virus, even if you have had plenty of sleep.
Dr Rafael Euba, Consultant Psychiatrist at The London Psychiatry Centre, explains: “Anxiety affects more than your mind; the physical effects are a result of stress activating the body’s autonomic nervous system (ANS). You might know it as the ‘fight or flight response’. One side effect of this activation is a racing heart, also known as palpitations. As this is a natural response to stress, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about if you experience these infrequently and the palpitations only last a short amount of time. However, if you’ve had prolonged episodes of palpitations during lockdown, it may be a sign that you have anxiety, and you should, therefore, seek help from a professional.”
Like heart palpitations, sweating is a response to stress. Nearly all of us sweat when we’re hot or when we’ve participated in strenuous activity, but we can usually cool off quite easily and return to a non-sweaty state. Conversely, those who experience sweating due to anxiety may not be able to cool off quickly, and may even find their perspiration getting worse as they then become anxious about sweating.
If you’re intensely stressed or you have anxiety, you might find that you break into a hot or cold sweat when you’re confronted with whatever’s causing you worry; in the case of lockdown, you might experience sweating when you go outside or when someone in your household goes outside if you have to go to the hospital, or even when you’re thinking about lockdown and its effect on your life.
Significant Change In Eating/Exercising Habits
There are many people who have found that they have put on weight during lockdown due to lack of exercise or an increase in comfort eating as a coping mechanism. There are also those who have undertaken a diet or increased the amount of exercise they are doing. However, if your eating and exercising habits have changed to the point where you have gained or lost a significant amount of weight during the months of lockdown and your new habits are becoming obsessive, it may be that anxiety is to blame.
If you’re experiencing intense or prolonged stress due to worries about lockdown, this can cause tension in the muscles of your abdomen, in turn causing stomach cramps. Not only that, but a drastic change in food consumption such as stress eating or dieting, or even an imbalance in hormones due to stress, can cause pain in your stomach.
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms and you feel that it may be linked to anxiety, it’s important to seek help to prevent your symptoms from getting worse, and so that you can return to a more normal way of life. Anxiety disorders are common and treatable, whether with medication or supportive counselling – or both.