Audrey Jolly Therapy

Anxiety -Is it normal or a disorder?

Posted Aug 28th, 2018 in Mental Health, Depression, Shame

Anxiety -Is it normal or a disorder?

Sheryl Ankron from wrote:

Anxiety is a general, unpleasant feeling of apprehension. You feel restless and you may have physical reactions such as a headache, sweating, palpitations, chest tightness, and upset stomach. When is anxiety normal and when is it an anxiety disorder?

Virtually every human has experienced anxiety at one time or another. Anxiety is a normal human experience. In fact, it is considered a beneficial response in certain dangerous situations that trigger the anxiety-laden fight-or-flight stress response and the physical symptoms are coming from your autonomic nervous system response.

Anxiety Can Be Normal and Beneficial

There are an infinite number of human experiences that cause normal anxiety. As we journey through life, there are many important life events, both good and bad, that cause varying amounts of anxiety. These events can include things such as, taking a school exam, getting married, becoming a parent, getting divorced, changing jobs, coping with illness and many others.

The discomfort anxiety brings in all of these situations is considered normal and even beneficial. The anxiety you feel when walking through a dark and deserted parking lot to your car will cause you to be alert and cautious of your surroundings, or better yet, get an escort to your vehicle.

Anxiety Can Be a Problem

While it’s pretty clear to see that anxiety is normal and even beneficial, for many people it becomes a problem. The main difference between normal anxiety and problem anxiety is between the source and the intensity of the experience.

Normal anxiety is intermittent and is expected based on certain events or situations. Problem anxiety, on the other hand, tends to be chronic, irrational and interferes with many life functions. Avoidance behavior, incessant worry, and concentration and memory problems may all stem from problem anxiety. These symptoms may be so intense that they cause family, work, and social difficulties.

The components of problem anxiety include the physical responses to the anxiety (such as palpitations and stomach upset), distorted thoughts that become a source of excessive worry and behavioral changes affecting the usual way one lives life and interacts with others. Left unchecked, problem anxiety may lead to an anxiety disorder.

When anxiety progresses to being a disorder, the definition for generalized anxiety disorder is "The presence of excessive anxiety and worry about a variety of topics, events, or activities. Worry occurs more often than not for at least six months and is clearly excessive," according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition published by the American Psychiatric Association.

* In therapy treatment we can address anxiety from a number of levels, depending upon where it is experienced. Anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations may occur each having techniques that one can use to help restore balance and calm. Staying present in the moment and not getting ahead of oneself is important. Not going to 'worst case scenario' thinking which only adds fuel to the fear.  Breathing slowly and deeply is a good resource (4 counts in and 4 counts out) for managing a racing mind and anxious body. For customized techniques to calm, soothe and settle the self, contact me and we will begin the work together. 


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