No one enjoys the feeling of anxiety.
I’ve certainly dealt with it myself, and so have the approximately 40 million others that live with an anxiety disorder every year.
What about you? Do you ever experience a racing heart?
Butterflies in the stomach?
What you might not know is: These feelings can be totally normal. It’s not always a sign of clinical anxiety to feel anxious at times.
Who doesn’t feel a little jittery before a job interview?
I feel like this is a very important distinction to make as we work to break the stigma. I don’t want people with very normal emotions to worry that they have a debilitating disorder.
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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.
What is anxiety?
Mental health has come under the microscope in the last five or so years. People are paying more attention to it, which means certain disorders and problems are becoming more well known. Anxiety is perhaps the most common mental health issue out there. Many people suffer from anxiety, and it’s something that plagues your day-to-day life.
As I mentioned earlier, about 40 million US adults live with anxiety in a given year.
The article linked above also says:
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Having said that, there have also been some misconceptions about mental health and anxiety. Some people will claim to have anxiety when they’re actually just anxious. This may seem like the same thing, but there are fundamental differences between the two. Anxiety is a mental health disorder while feeling anxious is more of a reaction to situations.
Using the example I stated earlier, it is very normal to feel anxious before a job interview. Here are some other situations when you might have an anxious feeling:
- Wedding day
- Long day of travel
- Birth of a child
- Court proceeding
- Awaiting news from a loved one
Feeling anxious around these situations does not mean you have an anxiety condition.
If you’re confused, don’t be alarmed. It’s hard to get your head around, which is why this article will help you differentiate between the two and figure out what you should do to treat yourself.
Anxiety is a long-term condition
Suffering from anxiety means that you are almost always on edge. Simple situations create intense nervous feelings for you. The thought of speaking to a cashier in a store is almost too much to bear. For me, it is sometimes making phone calls to schedule an appointment.
You will always be plagued by dark thoughts that make you feel incredibly nervous about lots of different things. Similarly, you will also experience side effects, like stomach pains, stress headaches, and lots of tension. If all of these things sound familiar to you, then you probably suffer from anxiety.
So, what is the difference?
Conversely, being anxious is more of a short-term state. You can feel anxious in the lead up to a big exam. You feel anxious about going to meet someone for the first time. But, these feelings are usually only there for a short while. They don’t manifest for weeks before the situation, which tends to happen when you have anxiety. Everyone gets anxious about little things now and then – particularly if they’re new or scary experiences.
This is a natural response to many situations. You can even feel anxious when doing something repeatedly, like speaking to someone on the phone. However, these feelings subside when the task is complete, and they only come around in the lead up to it. With anxiety, you feel nervous and on edge almost all the time.
Treating anxiety and overcoming anxious feelings
It’s important to know if you have anxiety, as the treatment for it is different from if you just feel anxious. Typically, you should seek professional help for anxiety. Therapy, medication, and journaling are 3 of the best ways to help you.
Places like Meridian Partners exist to provide expert counseling to those that need it. Talking about your issues is one of the best ways to work through them. Most insurances cover therapy sessions, and could possibly cover teletherapy, if the thought of meeting face to face is too much for you.
You may also get specific medication if your anxiety is really bad. This is super common, and nothing to be ashamed of. I have taken it in the past, and so lots of people I know. These medications can help alleviate your symptoms, and might help you get better sleep at night.
I have found journaling to be very, very helpful in ridding yourself of some of those negative thoughts. You can really try a lot of different strategies. Here are just a few to get you started:
- Write down 3 things you are grateful for
- Write down an intention for the day
- Make a list of some things you like about yourself
- Jot down some negative thoughts, and then write down positive counter-statements.
There is hope out there
By undergoing a range of treatments, you will soon calm the symptoms and fight back against this mental health disorder.
On the other hand, combatting anxious feelings is easier. Typically, it’s a case of forcing yourself out of your comfort zone and gradually doing more of the things you get anxious about. You won’t need professional help as it’s more about getting over nerves than fighting an illness.
Hopefully, this all makes sense to you. Everyone can be anxious, but not everyone suffers from anxiety. It’s important to differentiate between the two as you need to know how to treat the problem correctly.