woman looks anxious and afraid

How to Tell If You Have Anxiety Issues or Just Plain Worry

As mental health awareness continues to rise, people are beginning to be more conscious of their emotional state and seeking services such as cognitive behavioral therapy. One of the things that people seek help for on a massive scale is anxiety. In the US, anxiety is the most common mental disorder, affecting roughly 40 million adult Americans each year.

With how common anxiety is, it is crucial that you know the telltale signs of it. You might just be suffering from it. It is highly treatable with proper and early intervention. One of the significant symptoms of anxiety is excessive worrying. 

However, everyone experiences worry at some point in their lives. It is a normal reaction to stressful situations that we encounter every day. How can you tell between reasonable amounts of worrying, or worrying to the point of anxiety where you may need cognitive-behavioral therapy?

Worry tends to be more specific than anxiety.

When you are worried about something, you can usually quickly identify what is causing you to worry. For example, when you have an upcoming party to attend, you might worry about what to wear. On the other hand, an anxiety disorder will cause you to dread the entire event in general. Another example is when going on a trip. A common cause of worry usually is arriving at the airport on time, while anxiety will cause you to dread the entire trip.

breathing through a paper bag during a panic attack

Worry stems from realistic concerns, while anxiety is more irrational.

Since you can pinpoint the cause for worry, they tend to be more concrete. On the other hand, anxiety is something that you can’t seem to put your finger on. If you’ve ever had the feeling of fear, apprehension, or foreboding for something that does not make logical sense, you might be experiencing anxiety. A good example of irrational fear caused by anxiety disorders is a phobia. The thought, feeling, and belief that a cockroach is scary as death itself will not make sense under normal circumstances.

Worry urges you to solve a problem while anxiety does not.

Since the root of worry is concrete, specific, and realistic, you usually feel prompted and empowered to get rid of whatever is worrying you. If you’re worried about being late, you might address this by setting an early alarm. If you’re concerned about running out of gas for a trip, you might load up your tank at the next gas stop. However, if you feel that something terrible will happen to you during the trip, which causes you to cancel it altogether, you might be experiencing something more serious.

A feeling of helplessness often accompanies anxiety. If you couple that with dread, the resulting perception of a person experiencing anxiety is impending doom. This is especially evident with people suffering from major panic attacks. Suddenly, the sensation of your own beating heart can make you feel like you have a heart attack; you cannot help yourself, and that you are going to die.

Anxiety does not go away, even after resolving the problem.

One of those hallmarks of anxiety is that it is long-lasting in nature and that its presence does not depend on your situation. People who suffer from anxiety worry not because something is going on, but rather cannot help but worry about everything for the time being. 

For example, if you’re worried about an upcoming business presentation, you might feel relieved once it is over. But for someone with anxiety issues, after the dreaded event, the worry shifts from one thing to another. After the presentation, an anxious person might overthink about his health, the status of his relationship with his spouse, or the safety of his loved ones. The feeling of fear and heightened alert is sustained despite the change of circumstance. 

Anxiety can affect other aspects of your life.

Anxiety has this ability to creep into other aspects of life. Worry tends to root from and stay in our heads. With worry, you might say something like, “I’m afraid I might stutter or forget my lines while speaking on stage,” but it usually ends there. You might feel the sweats or have clammy hands before you step on stage, but everything else proceeds as planned.

However, with anxiety, something extreme happens that is beyond your control. You might experience severe abdominal pain or even loose bowel movements before the day of your activity. You might not be capable of stepping out of the house for several days. Some people even experience temporary blindness, or just flat out blackout while on the scene.

Worry is more single-dimension, while anxiety is a triad.

As you may have noticed with the symptoms of worry versus anxiety disorders, worry is more straightforward and singular. It can manifest in your head with thoughts of specific, realistic concerns. It can also manifest itself with mild bodily symptoms such as a fast heartbeat or increased sweating.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is all-encompassing. It is a triad of thoughts, emotions, and extreme physical symptoms that seem to work hand-in-hand to produce devastating effects on a person’s life. 

 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is proven to help people with anxiety issues. If you are convinced that you might have anxiety, it is a useful tool for managing your thoughts and emotions. It will also help if you consult with a professional such as a mental health counselor who can find the right programs for you. However, if you are not sure whether your everyday worries are worth worrying about, it would still be helpful to find scientifically-proven methods to help you relax and face your challenges with a clear and worry-free head.

The good news is that you can take this self-help program right at the comforts of your own home. Take the CBT: Worry Control With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to learn more about CBT and how you can use it to improve your everyday life.

Ready to let go of worry and anxiety? Click here to get started.

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