Everyone is prone to feeling anxious from time to time, whether they are nervous about an upcoming presentation, interview, or a first date most people experience some type of anxiety. But it can sometimes become difficult to tell the difference between normal everyday worries that are the natural response to our experiences and the symptoms of an anxiety disorder. People can start to become obsessively worried and not know whether what they are feeling will eventually pass or if they need professional help.
Symptoms of normal worry and real anxiety can seem similar because they both can involve nervous or racing thoughts or an increased heart rate as a reaction to something that makes you feel afraid. One of the main differences between an anxiety disorder and normal worries is that a disorder will cause significant problems in your day to day life. It can start to interfere with your job or your social life while normal worry will allow you to still function and maintain your routine.
One of the things that can happen when someone is experiencing anxiety is that they lose control and are not able to put their worries into perspective. People with it begin to deal with severe emotional distress that does not fade away but instead lingers over a long period of time. Someone with an anxiety will feel overwhelmed by their worries in a way that makes it difficult for them to get through every day.
What Worry Looks Like
Someone who is experiencing normal worry tends to focus more on their thoughts and have less of a reaction in their body than someone with anxiety. Worry usually occurs with nervous thoughts about a very specific problem such as being nervous about getting to work on time. Anxiety can be more vague and involves broader fears such as being afraid of getting through the whole work day.
Worry also tends to focus more on verbal thoughts while anxiety involves more emotional mental images that cause a bodily reaction. Someone with worry will have a wordy narrative in their mind about a specific problem while a person with it might picture themselves getting in a bad situation. Their mental images can cause them to feel physical symptoms such as sweating and trembling.
One of the things that makes worry more manageable is that often triggers problem solving so that the person can figure out how to handle their worries. They might think of solutions or strategies to ease their worries so that they can minimize their nervous feelings. Anxiety on the other hand doesn’t typically lead to productive solutions because the person becomes so overwhelmed by their feelings.
The main thing about worry that makes it distinct from anxiety is that it is controllable and temporary. Worry is a normal reaction to realistic concerns and it usually fades once the problem is dealt with. Anxiety can last much longer and spiral out of control until it begins to cause significant problems.
Recognizing Symptoms of an Anxiety Disorder
If you are concerned that you or someone you love might be dealing with an anxiety disorder there are certain signs and symptoms that you can identify. Someone with an anxiety disorder might experience the following:
- Feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness
- Sleep problems
- Sweaty or numb hands and feet
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilating
- Trouble concentrating at work or school
- Loss of relationships
- Irrational fears and over reaction to things they perceive as threatening
Although it is a complicated issue, anyone who feels that their worries are starting to make it difficult for them to go to work or engage in social interactions may need help. There are a few different types of anxiety disorders and it is important to get a diagnosis to find out what specific problem you are dealing with. Mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder are specific types of anxiety within the broader classification.
Someone who feels anxiety mainly in social situations and is overly sensitive or concerned about what others think could have social anxiety disorder. Getting a diagnosis from a professional can help narrow down the type of it you have and make treatment more focused on your personal issues.
While worry is a normal part of life and tends to come and go, anxiety can become a constant problem if you don’t receive treatment. People with it can benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy and in some cases from medication to help ease their symptoms. A psychiatrist can help determine the best method of treatment to handle your anxiety.
Even though it can be overwhelming it is treatable and many people can live healthy and happy lives when they learn how to manage their symptoms. If you think you might have anxiety then seek help from a treatment center in your area.