Worried all the time lately? When is it signs of anxiety, and when is it more than just anxiety and an anxiety disorder?
Key facts about anxiety and mental health
It’s important to understand that mental health is not an exact science. Mental health ‘disorders’ are not illnesses you can see under a microscope. They are general terms created by mental health professionals to help describe groups of people with similar symptoms.
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Anxiety and stress
With stress, we know what it is we are upset about. It’s just that we are very overwhelmed and feel unable to cope. We feel frustrated, and can be angry or sad.
‘Everyday anxiety’ is often really a form of stress. Something has happened in life that has us worried all the time. This might be losing our job, a big presentation, or a life change.
Anxiety, however, is more vague in its cause. We suddenly feel scared about our future, and our thoughts become increasingly illogic. If we think what we think we are anxious about, we then just feel anxious about something else.
Once we are in a state of anxiety, we canoverreact to everything. Something small, like a stranger looking at us funny on a train, can leave us feeling afraid.
But in general, this happens because we were already prone to anxiety.
Symptoms of anxiety and anxiety disorder
The symptoms of anxiety and anxiety disorder are the same. The difference is in how long you experience the symptoms, and in their severity. And many of these symptoms also are seen in cases of severe stress.
Anxiety symptoms can be divided into categories: mental symptoms, emotional symptoms, and physical symptoms.
Mental symptoms can include things like:
obsessive and increasingly illogic thinking
a feeling like your mind is on overdrive, troubleshooting everything
always thinking of the future and how you can control it
If we have done therapy for our anxiety, however, and know how to control it when it gets triggered? Then we can start to experience anxiety in a way that is no longer a disorder as it is not controlling us. We are controlling our anxiety.
The different types of anxiety disorder
Anxiety disorder can manifest differently for different people. There are many types of anxiety disorder, with the most common ones being:
Generalised anxiety disorder: you are anxious all the time, you make decisions based around your anxious thoughts and fear, and it’s been going on for several months or a lot longer.
Social anxiety disorder: Your anxiety triggers when you have to interact with others. The more anxious you are, the less you go out of the house.
Life throws curve balls. So we all at some point feel overwhelmed and anxious. But a good rule of thumb is that if your stress and anxiety has been going on for two months or more, and you feel it is negatively affecting your daily life and ability to cope? It’s time to seek support.
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