What is Anxiety?

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What is Anxiety?

ANXIETY: noun

A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

Have you ever experienced anxiety? 

I have had an influx of clients that have come into my office due to their feelings of worry and nervousness. Due to this, I felt it would be helpful to write a 3 part series regarding anxiety. There is so much information about anxiety that I think it would be best to break it up because this will help simplify the information and allow me to focus more specifically on the various components of the topic. 

Let’s talk about anxiety and worry today…..

Many people are affected by anxiety, the feeling of worry, nervousness or unease; however, this does not indicate an anxiety disorder per se. One who may not identify themselves as an “anxious person” or “worrier” may find themselves experiencing the discomfort of anxiety creep into their life at some point and then it can leave as quickly as it came. This would be considered a “normal” occurrence. Anxiety that continues to persist frequently over time and begins to affect your daily living is when you might want to look deeper and identify whether or not you have an anxiety disorder. 

It has been reported by anxiety.org that:

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S.
  • Over 40 million American adults are affected by an anxiety disorder 
  • Women are twice as likely as men to develop PTSD
  • 40% of American adults have experienced an anxiety disorder at some point in their life
  • Only 1/3 of adults suffering from anxiety disorders receive treatment
  • Only 1/5 of teenagers suffering anxiety disorders receive treatment

What is sad is that though so many people have experienced anxiety or an anxiety disorder, most of these people feel so alone and misunderstood by others. It can feel isolating because family or friends just don't get why you feel the way you do. They simply don't understand. 

How do you explain to people your intense fear of leaving your house, or being in a room full of people or needing to wash your hands multiple times a day?

How can you describe the overwhelming worry you experience on a daily basis about your children or death?

Or how can someone understand the feeling you have in the pit of your gut that you just don't understand yourself?

To wake up every morning to an overwhelming feeling of anxiousness that has no rhyme or reason to it?

Or to fear the night time hours because you know that feeling of dread is going to wash over you without warning or any indication of ending. 

Anxiety is largely defined by the feeling of worry which then perpetuates the vicious cycle of anxiousness and worry. They go hand in hand and even can be argued that they are synonyms. Though anxiety is very real and present in peoples lives, engaging in worry is unfortunately a poor use of your time. It drains our energy and consumes our hours by thinking about a situation, past event, or future fear over and over again. Worrying about what might happen or the “what if’s”  of life does NOT influence the outcome. 

Worry presents us with a FASLE SENSE OF SECURITY when we are completely out of control. 

We continue to engage in the draining mind game of reply or scenario plotting because it satisfies our need to control the unknown. There have been reports made that 85% of what we worry about never actually happens. 

Worry has a horrible ROI (return on investment).

Think about the last thing you worried about. Did it come true? 

There can be arguments that worry can be a positive thing because it can motivate you to do something about the situation; however, that is not the worry I am addressing. This type of worry tends to be short lived and a trigger to motivate action, which can be argued as being categorized as concern rather than worry. The worry I am referring to is the worry that consumes you, the worry that interferes in your daily living or the worry that paralyzes you.

It is one thing to worry {or be concerned} about an exam or a job interview but it is all together different to worry that you will fail at life, in relationships, you're not good enough, something awful is going to happen, or just an overwhelming sense of dread and gut feeling that doesn't have a name on it. People’s worries absolutely can be realistic but they can also be irrational; such as the anxiety regarding social situations or leaving the home. The key is knowing the difference and how to cope with them.

Do you feel that you are a worrier? Do worrisome thoughts consume your mind? Does fear about life and relationships prevent you from moving forward? Do they interfere in your relationships?

All of these feelings are very real for people and to feel as if no one can identify with them makes it even more isolating; therefore creating a sense of reluctancy to even try to receive help. There is help and there are MANY resources that can provide validation and treatment options for the various types of anxiety disorders. I encourage you to reach out for help if you have answered yes or if you have more questions.

In the upcoming blogs in this series I will be discussing the various Anxiety Disorders and their symptoms and then I will provide tools and skills to cope well with worry and anxiety.

It is an awful feeling to be anxious and worry most of the time. There are so many resources out there and people who can help. If you need direction I would be happy to assist you.