July brings Black mental health awareness to the nation’s forefront as we observe National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Despite the prevalence of mental disease, the conversations around these conditions are still lacking.

We, as a community, make a great effort to manage chronic illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension but ignore our mental health illnesses. In an effort to shed some light on two common but often neglected chronic medical conditions, we’ve created part one of our two-part series highlighting depression and anxiety.

Recognition is the first step in starting the conversation. Here is a list of five symptoms of anxiety to look for in yourself or a loved one.

1. Sleep

The range of problems associated with sleep in anxiety disorder is broad. They range from difficulty falling or staying asleep to restless and unsatisfying sleep.

2. Restlessness

Constantly feeling restless or on the edge is a common symptom of anxiety disorder. Often, people feel very wound up, stressed or worried for no know reason at all. These symptoms are often difficult to control and become very overwhelming.

3. Easily Fatigued

Similar to depression, this fatigue can be debilitation. This is more than normal tiredness and can make it difficult to do your normal day-to-day activities. You may also note that you get tired earlier than you normally do or with less activity than at your normal.

4. Concentration

Difficulty concentrating or focusing on day-to-day tasks can be a hallmark of anxiety. Some also describe feeling like their minds go blank all of a sudden.

5. Irritability

Anxiety often makes people feel short tempered and it is easier to feel irritated by people or situations that normally wouldn’t bother you.

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It is not pathologic to worry about events such as a big test, public speaking or making a huge life decision. However, with clinical anxiety, the fear doesn’t go away when the situation does. It is a crippling fear that can interfere with your normal daily habits, such as school, work or relationships.

The spectrum of anxiety disorders are varied. Some of the most common variants of anxiety include panic disorder, social anxiety and generalized anxiety disorder. Panic disorder consists of unprovoked attacks of fear that are accompanied by sweating, rapid heartbeat and sensations of choking or being smothered. Social anxiety disorder is an intense fear of social situations due to expectations of embarrassment, rejection, or judgment. Finally, generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by prolonged and debilitating anxiety or fear, regardless of how small or large the situation.

Dr, Gameli Dekayie-Amenu & Dr. Chantale Stephens-Archer are the co-founders of BestiesMD. As both best friends and physicians, they are committed to providing reliable women’s health education on a relatable and sisterly level.