Worrywart Vs. Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety is one of those things that we all experience. It’s a normal part of going on a job interview, writing an exam, or meeting your partner’s parents for the first time. Because it’s a normal part of all of those experiences, it can sometimes be difficult to notice when we’re worrying too much, when our anxiety is bigger than the events that might trigger it. It can go undiagnosed for years, because we just think we’re a “worryer”, it’s just who we are, as though excessive anxiety is a personality trait like being easy-going or being very organized.
The truth is, though, that anxiety is a diagnosable and treatable condition, and if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the anxiety you’re feeling, you might very well benefit from counselling services.
Here are some of the signs that your worry might be more than just, well, worry.
- Your anxiety level around certain activities is so high that you avoid doing them.
- You feel irritable, edgy, tense, unable to relax.
- Other people seem to be able to handle similar challenges without getting as bogged down in them as you do.
- Things have to be done in a certain way in order to avoid something bad happening.
- You have unexpected, overwhelming, intense feelings of panic or terror.
- You feel extremely self-conscious and fearful in social situations, even ones that others seem to handle with ease.
- There seems to be something to worry about in all areas of your life. Catastrophe is possible around every corner.
- You know that your worries and anxieties are exaggerated or irrational, but you can’t seem to stop them.
- The amount of anxiety and worry you feel is making it hard for you to enjoy your life or do your daily activities.
Anxiety can produce physical symptoms, too. The following symptoms are examples of the physical symptoms associated with anxiety:
- shortness of breath
- racing heart
- muscle tension
- upset stomach or digestive issues
There are many different kinds of anxiety, some of which are more commonly known. Lots of people, for example, associate Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with checking the stove a dozen times before leaving the kitchen, but OCD is much more than just a series of cute repetitive behaviours. It’s actually a series of intense and unwanted distressing thoughts (obsessions) that are temporarily relieved by a certain set of ritual behaviours (compulsions).
Much more common than OCD, though, is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Free-floating, “what if”, worried-about-everything anxiety is a hallmark of this kind of anxiety, and it’s often the kind of anxiety people are suffering from when they don’t even realize they have an anxiety disorder.
Specific phobias (flying, snakes, driving on highways), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (which develops after a traumatic experience, such as being in a war or being assaulted), Social Phobia (overwhelming fear of being embarrassed in public or being negatively judged by others), and Panic Disorder (having panic attacks, which are overwhelming feelings of terror that are accompanied by intense physical symptoms, that come out of the blue) are among the most common anxiety disorders. They are all effectively treated through counselling services, and often with medication.
If you see yourself in any of the above descriptions, take heart in knowing that there is help available. Treatment for anxiety disorders works and can free you from feeling as though anxiety is “just who you are.”