Special Report

Drinking Too Much Coffee and 18 Ordinary Habits That Can Be Signs of Serious Health Problems

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16. You wake up a lot: Sleep apnea

Experiencing persistent problems falling and staying asleep may be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, which is distinguished by breathing pauses, usually lasting around 10 seconds, during sleep. (The resulting increase of carbon dioxide is what causes you to wake up, and the cycle repeats itself throughout the night.) Inconsistent sleep and low blood oxygen levels as a result of the pauses in breathing can lead to chronic fatigue, hypertension, heart disease, anxiety, and memory problems.

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17. Hitting things when you’re upset: Huntington’s

Huntington’s disease is a genetic condition in which nerve cells in the brain break down over time. It slowly destroys a person’s physical and mental abilities. An inability to control emotions and becoming aggressive is one sign of the disease as the caudate nucleus cells in the brain, which is involved in regulating emotions, deteriorate. The brain then can’t control the intensity of emotions, resulting in possible fits of anger over hunger or changes in routine.

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18. You worry too much: Generalized anxiety disorder

This is more than just being nervous about an upcoming test. This is about worrying constantly about little things — would you know if you worry too much? Generalized anxiety disorder is an ongoing anxiety that interferes with daily activities, such as being unable to focus, feeling tired all the time, having headaches, and sweating a lot. Adults with the condition worry mostly about their jobs, health, and finances. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication have been found to be effective in treating the disorder.

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19. You repeat small daily rituals: OCD

Making the bed in the morning, locking the front door, checking to make sure the oven is off are normal daily rituals for many people. But when these daily rituals take over in a way that changes one’s pace for the day, that may be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Instead of locking the door once you lock it 10 times and keep checking if it’s locked, or you might pass through a door multiple times until it feels right. People with OCD feel a need to perform small rituals to relieve anxiety or tension throughout the body.