While we all worry – and it’s perfectly natural to do so – for some, those worries can take over their lives and even prevent them from functioning as they should. When this happens, the term ‘anxiety’ usually comes into play. While some use the two terms (worry and anxiety) on an interchangeable basis, we’ll refer to anxiety as a condition that affects the mental health of millions the world over.
What are the differences between worry and anxiety?
When a person is worrying, it’s usually about something specific, such as a sick relative, cancelled travel plans or a deadline to meet at work. However, when a person has anxiety, those levels of worry are often taken to potentially catastrophic heights, and the source of the worry may become mentally distorted and blown out of proportion.
Those who worry usually think a lot about the problem and try to come up with a plan of action in response, while anxiety can manifest itself in more physical forms, such as with a tightening of the chest or a feeling of nausea.
When a person suffering from anxiety perceives a threat (whether real or not), their fear is intensified and activates a part of the brain that triggers a fight-or-flight response, often leaving them feeling utterly helpless. Perspective and rationality can quickly become warped, and the sufferer often experiences an intense sensation of dread, in some cases robbing them of the ability to live a happy or fulfilled life.
While those who worry a lot are usually able to manage their worries and still lead a normal life, anxiety and the attacks associated with it can go on for hours (or even days) at a time, and for some, it never feels like it goes away.
What are the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder?
A generalized anxiety disorder must be diagnosed by a registered psychiatrist or GP, and if you have been worrying uncontrollably most days and have been doing so for at least 6 months, then it may be that you need to seek professional help with your anxiety.
Some symptoms that are referred to when assessments are being carried out include:
- Feelings of restlessness and general unease
- A quickness to tire
- Problems concentrating or having a blank mind
- Tension in muscles
- Irregular sleep patterns
- Anxiety or excessive worrying are inhibiting the ability to function normally
It’s important to note that these symptoms should not be as a result of substance abuse, medication or any other medical disorder or illness.
Help is out there: For those of you who may be feeling at your wits end and are unable to live with constant anxiety or attacks that cripple you each time they occur, then please seek professional help to get your life back on track. Moderate to severe anxiety can be effectively treated with a combination of medication and talking therapies, so help is out there, and hope is always there. Nobody deserves to suffer from uncontrollable anxiety, least of all you, so take the first step today and reach out to a qualified, experienced counselor who will soon have you feeling as if life is truly worth living again.