People all around the world struggle with anxiety, but researchers find that anxiety and out-of-control worry tend to impact people from “first world countries” like the US at significantly higher rates. In the US, people tend to be very busy, stress-driven, and have less time for healthy leisure activities and family time. To understand the way anxiety works, it helps to think of it as a hijacker. When functioning normally, our fear response system energizes us to fight or flee danger and then relaxes as quickly as possible. Anxiety, however, has the ability take over the system, causing the fear arousal switch to be stuck in the “On” position.
Are you a ‘Worry Wart’?
As a result, many people are continually keyed up and on edge. Living in a continual state of anxiety and worry is without a doubt bad for your emotional and physical health. Anxiety and feeling stressed when you’re facing a lot of demands is normal, and sometimes it helps give energy and focus to get things done.
Perhaps you would describe yourself as a ‘worry wart.’
While everyone will experience unpleasant or intense anxiety sometimes, not everyone has an anxiety disorder. A professional who is trained to assess you for an anxiety disorder will investigate to what extent your life is impacted by your anxiety. Clinical anxiety disorders are the result of an unhealthy level of anxiety that impairs a person’s ability to live a normal and satisfying life for an extended period of time. When a person regularly experiences a level of anxiety that impairs their life, it may be time to seek professional help.
Symptoms of Clinical Anxiety
Many people don’t realize they have an anxiety problem because they don’t recognize the physical (“somatic”) symptoms. Anxiety often shows up in the body as:
The good news about anxiety disorders is that they are very treatable. The gold-standard treatment for anxiety, like depression, is a combination of medication and a behavioral- based therapy such as CBT. Even for people that aren’t diagnosed with a clinical disorder, anxiety can feel like a problem. If medication and/or psychotherapy are not an option for you currently, you may still significantly enhance your life through little education, self-reflection, and willingness to try new things.
Brian Abbott, LMSW, LMAC
Resolve - Counseling & Wellness
Prairie Village, KS