Is my worry abnormal?

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. It is common to feel anxious when facing a problem, dealing with a sick family member, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But, anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. A person struggling with an anxiety disorder has excessive and intrusive thoughts.  The anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time, interfering with day to day responsibilities, job or school performance, and relationships.

What are the signs or symptoms?

It depends on the type of anxiety disorder, but general symptoms include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cold or sweaty hands or feet
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations
  • Not being able to be still and calm
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Nausea
  • Muscle tension
  • Dizziness

What is everyday anxiety versus an anxiety disorder?

Everyday Anxiety Anxiety Disorder
Worry about paying bills, landing a job, a romantic breakup, or other important life events Constant and unsubstantiated worry that causes significant distress and interferes with daily life
Embarrassment or self-consciousness in an uncomfortable or awkward social situation Avoiding social situations for fear of being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated
A case of nerves or sweating before a big test, business presentation, stage performance, or other significant event Seemingly out-of-the-blue panic attacks and the preoccupation with the fear of having another one
Realistic fear of a dangerous object, place, or situation Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, or situation that poses little or no threat of danger
Anxiety, sadness, or difficulty sleeping immediately after a traumatic event Recurring nightmares, flashbacks, or emotional numbing related to a traumatic event that occurred several months or years before

If you are experiencing chronic anxiety and feel you may have an anxiety disorder, it is appropriate to seek help.  It’s very difficult to treat anxiety disorders through self-help; however, they are highly treatable with the help of a licensed professional.  The sooner you seek treatment, the faster you’ll feel better.