What is anxiety?

Anxiety is “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune” (dictionary.com).

Anxiety involves a feeling of fear because you feel threatened in some capacity. The feelings are real but the threat may not be – the threat could be imagined, but feel very real to you. Like Steve feels it’s the end of the world if he fails his quiz, when we know that a quiz isn’t going to end the world.

Anxiety is a pretty common feeling that most of us experience at different points in our lives. But some people feel anxious more often than others and for some people anxiety can become a disorder and seriously disrupt their lives and overall sense of well-being.

How does anxiety feel? People describe anxiety with the following words:

tension, worry, feeling on guard, hyper alert, hyper vigilant, apprehension, a sense of doom

Physical symptoms might include (but are not limited to):

stomach aches/pains, sweating, pacing, shaking, mind racing, an inability to sit still, nausea, dizziness, chest pains, headaches 

Do you ever fear you might miss a big event? Or super stress out over a quiz? Or worry a friend might turn on you for no reason? Or stay inside all day rather than go meet the new neighbors? These concerns can prevent people from enjoying day to day activities. The feeling that people have over these concerns (like the nervousness that Steve felt) is anxiety.

Anxiety is a general state of worry that can be specific (“I am worried that people will hate me”) or just a general sense of doom (“I don’t know why I am anxious, I just know something bad is going to happen”). Anxiety is different from an anxiety disorder, which is a diagnosis provided by a mental health professional.

Here is the basic difference between an anxiety disorder and feeling anxious:

Anxiety disorders feel like part of who you are and restrict you from fully enjoying life because you have a really hard time getting through the anxiety. (You’ll read much more about this shortly.)

Feeling anxious from time to time over a life event like a test, moving to a new town, an intimidating social situation, or having to give a speech in front of the whole school, is NORMAL. You get through it. It is temporary.

For instance, you can feel anxious about spiders when you unexpectedly see one in your bathroom, but as long as your dislike of spiders is not keeping you from going to the bathroom, you can be sure this is just a dislike of spiders, not a disorder.

Anxiety can feel overwhelming and lead to a panic attack, a condition where people are not able to breathe properly (see the Bonus YSS on panic attacks).

DID YOU KNOW? Anxiety disorders (including obsessive compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and phobias) affect about 18 percent of the adult population in a given year. (http://www.nimh.nih.gov/about/director/2011/antidepressants-a-complicated-picture.shtml)

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issue facing Americans. Thankfully, however, they are also among the most treatable conditions. Check out the Bonus YSS section to read about the most common types of anxiety disorders and read the next sub-post to understand the subtle but important difference between anxiety and stress. If you have anxiety, please make sure you read the “Beating Anxiety” post after you are done with learning about anxiety in general here.

Post Question:

Do you ever feel anxious? If so, what makes you anxious?

Answer the post question here

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  • WLKHS1101
    Posted at 12:54h, 07 October Reply

    I feel anxious when I am going to play in a football game. I feel like the world is going to end if I mess up even though I know it wont. This is always temporary and I end up feeling better after the game then I had all week. In a way, getting through the bad hard times makes the normal times better.

  • WLKHS1105
    Posted at 12:54h, 07 October Reply

    I feel anxious before a big test because usually I dont study or prepare myself enough and know im gonna do bad

  • WLKHS1110
    Posted at 12:52h, 07 October Reply

    I very rarely feel anxious but when I do it is before a test.

  • 1102
    Posted at 12:51h, 07 October Reply

    I feel anxious often because of long term assignments

  • WLKHS1107
    Posted at 12:51h, 07 October Reply

    Normally, when I feel anxious it is about school. Like an important test or quiz that I know I need to do well on. This makes me anxious because school is an important thing that I know I can’t mess around in.

  • WLKHS1111
    Posted at 12:44h, 07 October Reply

    big dogs

  • WLKHS 2326
    Posted at 00:11h, 05 March Reply

    I feel anxious very often, especially in school. I always feel anxious about a test, even if I know the material. I’m nervous that I won’t do well and that I won’t be able to go to a good college and have a successful career.

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