Anxiety is such an integral part of daily life that it’s hard to know when your feelings leave the realm of normal and expected and become excessive, or turn into an anxiety disorder.
At Insight Psychiatric Services, Kevin Joseph, DNP, PMHNP-BC, specializes in evaluating your challenges and symptoms and identifying anxiety disorders. Then he provides personalized treatment that helps you overcome anxiety and regain an active, thriving life.
No one can escape anxiety, and for most people, it’s a daily event. When you’re under stress, feel frightened or worried, or dread an upcoming event, your brain immediately responds to your anxious feelings.
Your brain triggers the release of hormones, causing physical changes that energize you to deal with the challenge or quickly escape a dangerous situation.
You can’t control this classic fight-or-flight response because it’s hardwired into your brain. If you’re anxious, your brain will respond. After the threat is over, your hormones return to normal and your anxiety disappears.
Daily anxiety is normal when it begins in response to a real or perceived challenge, motivates you to act, and then goes away.
No one has nailed down the exact reason why some people develop anxiety disorders and others don’t. The experts currently believe that anxiety disorders arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, developmental, and physical factors.
Anxiety tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component. Yet inheriting a genetic tendency doesn’t guarantee you’ll have an anxiety disorder because variables like diet, exercise, life experiences, and psychological health have a strong influence.
No matter the cause, you can develop one of several anxiety disorders:
Many people have symptoms found in anxiety disorders. You may worry about everyday issues like money and children, be afraid of giving a speech or report at work, or have an intense fear of spiders. But having these challenges doesn’t mean you have an anxiety disorder.
So when does daily anxiety or normal worry become an anxiety disorder? The difference is in the frequency and severity of your anxiety.
The biggest difference between daily anxiety and an anxiety disorder is the way your feelings and emotions affect your daily life.
Even if you have severe daily anxiety, you still go through your day and do what needs to be done. By comparison, anxiety disorders cause inescapable and profound anxiety that interrupts your day and makes it hard to fulfill your daily responsibilities.
There are several ways to tell the difference between daily anxiety and a disorder.
While each anxiety disorder has unique symptoms, they all cause one or more of the following:
When anxiety becomes a constant or frequent companion that you can’t shake, it has crossed the line from daily anxiety to an anxiety disorder. At that point, anxiety won’t improve without help.