How To Know If You Have An Anxiety Disorder
If your anxiety is so intense that you’re unable to cope with it, you may have an anxiety disorder.
This anxiety can be a symptom of many conditions, including:
- Phobia-related disorders
Each condition presents its unique symptoms. However, all anxiety disorders involve excessive fear, worry, or dread that interfere with your daily activities.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Mental Markers Of Depression
People with depression may:
- Be hopeless, assuming that nothing positive will happen in the future for themselves, for others, or for the world
- Believe it is not worth trying to think or feel differently, because of this hopelessness
- Feel worthless, as if who they are or what they do is not valuable
- Think about death due to a persistent belief that life is not worth living or that the individual is a burden on others. In cases of moderate to severe depression, more specific suicidal thoughts can be present.
In major depressive disorder , these types of thoughts are persistent most of the day and more days than not for weeks on end. If a person vacillates between a very low and very high mood state, then a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may apply. For any variant of a mood disorder, the low mood state is likely to be characterized by the type of thinking described above.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.
For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.
Stress Fear And Anxiety: What Is The Difference
An example may be the best way to illustrate the differences between stress, fear and anxiety.
Imagine the following scene:
Picture yourself walking along on the sidewalk, enjoying nice, sunny weather. You are about to cross a quiet street. You come to the corner, and step off the curb into the street. Suddenly, a car comes rushing toward you!
Your heart races, your breathing rate increases, and with a surge of adrenaline, you leap out of the way! It was a near miss.
After jumping out of the way to safety, you pause for a moment before continuing your walk. You are shaking. Your palms are sweaty. Your knees feel weak. Your heart is still pounding, and you are breathing heavily.
Eventually you resume your walk, and slowly your heart rate and breathing return to normal, the shaking stops, and you feel like your normal self again.
The next day, you are out for a walk again. You enjoy the beautiful day. As you step out to cross the street, you suddenly experience a pounding heart, trembling, and a great sense of fear! Your mouth is dry, your chest aches, and you feel dizzy. But there is no car coming.
Now let’s consider what is going on in this scenario, looking at elements of stress, fear and anxiety.
Suddenly, a car comes rushing toward you! This can be referred to as a stressor , signified here by the presence of physical danger.
Remembering the danger you were in the day before is one of the causes of anxiety symptoms that you are experiencing.
More information on….
Recommended Reading: Why Is Moving So Stressful
The Biology Of Stress
5. Stress feels situational anxiety feels personal.
Because stress is often conceived as relating to external pressure, it often feels situational and therefore outside our control. In this way, stress seldom generates feelings of responsibility or shame. Instead, stress is sometimes even culturally prized as a badge of honor or status symbol. Anxiety, on the other hand, is neither associated with feelings of pride nor a sense of doing our best. Instead, it is usually experienced as a weakness, a mental failing, and therefore something to be ashamed of.
6. Stress and anxiety share physiological similarities.
And yet, despite the definitional, clinical, and cultural differences, stress and anxiety are physiologically indistinguishable. At their most intense, they share the almost reflexive defensive survival reaction, commonly known as fight-or-flight, that sets off a cascade of physical changes along the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis preparing the body for threat. Attention is sharpened, energy is boosted, while oxygen and immunity are heightened readying the body for action. While the intensity of the threat response can vary, the experience of stress and anxiety in our bodies is almost indistinguishable physiologically. One persons experience of stress is another persons experience of anxiety, and vice versa.
7. We control how we define stress and anxiety, and our experience of it.
This post originally appeared on my my blog.
What Exactly Is Anxiety
Anxiety is an emotion characterized by fear, tension and/or worrying. Often, there are seemingly no triggers for anxiety most anxiety stems from a persons own thoughts and perceptions.
According to mental health statistics obtained by SingleCare in 2018, anxiety and anxiety disorders were the most common form of mental illness worldwide, affecting more than 200 million people around the globe.
Stress, on the other hand, is an emotional response triggered by an external stimulus, such as getting fired, a breakup, financial distress or losing something valuable. Stress can be long or short-term and is much more manageable than anxiety.
Stress, unlike anxiety, cannot be diagnosed as a disorder. Stress is a symptom of anxiety, and anxiety disorders can be diagnosed.
Don’t Miss: Can Stress Raise Your Blood Pressure
Three Things To Help Your Stress
Get exercise. This is a way for your body to recover from the increase of adrenaline and cortisol.
Get clear on what you can and cant control. Then focus your energy on what you can control and accept what you cant.
Dont compare your stress with anyone elses stress. Different people respond differently to stressful situations.
Remember: Stress is a biological response that is a normal part of our lives.
Overcoming Stress And Anxiety
Physical activity, a healthy diet and practising good sleep hygiene are all ways you can keep your brain healthy and able to respond effectively to highly stressful situations, but when stress takes over, the first and the best thing you can do is remove the stressor. If permanent removal isnt an option, simply taking some time away and coming back in a less heightened state can make a world of difference talk a walk, try a calming activity like colouring or drawing, or spend some time in nature.
If anxiety has taken over your life, consider consulting with a therapist or psychiatrist. When combined, talk therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy and drug therapy are proven, effective means of treating chronic anxieties. Exposure therapy may be suggested if anxiety is stemming from a phobia.
Finally, mindfulness meditation has had remarkable results for people living with many mental health conditions including anxiety, depression, ADHD, addiction and even physical symptoms such as IBS or chronic pain.
Personal experiences and environmental factors can contribute greatly to someones stress and anxiety, but studies also show that your genes can make you more susceptible to these conditions.
A CircleDNA test can provide you with stress and sleep reports, and confirm whether or not you are genetically predisposed to anxiety.
Recommended Reading: What Stress Does To Your Body
Symptoms Of Stress And Anxiety
Stress and anxiety have both physical and psychological signs. Some symptoms, including rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, diarrhea, or constipation, can present in both stress and anxiety.
There are, however, some distinct symptoms attributed to each.
Feeling tense or easily startled
Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Stress tends to be short term and comes in response to a recognized threat. Anxiety, however, is longer lasting and can sometimes seem as if nothing is triggering it often the feelings of fear or worry are disproportional to the actuality of the event or concern.
Managing Everyday Stress And Anxiety
Certain lifestyle changes can help alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety. These techniques can be used along with medical treatments for anxiety. Techniques to reduce stress and anxiety include:
- eating a balanced, healthy diet
- limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption
- getting enough sleep
- keeping a diary of your feelings
- practicing deep breathing
- recognizing the factors that trigger your stress
- talking to a friend
Be mindful if you tend to use substances like alcohol or drugs as ways to cope with stress and anxiety. This can lead to serious substance abuse issues that can make stress and anxiety worse.
10 Simple ways to relieve stress »
Recommended Reading: What Do You Do When Stressed
Too Many Responsibilities Or A High
Often, stress and anxiety are used interchangeably. However, it must be known that there is a difference between the two. Stress and anxiety both impact us physically and psychologically, but different people them differently. So how does one differentiate?
Experts state that while stress is mostly external, anxiety is largely internal.
Although one can generate stress for oneself through negative self-talk, pessimistic attitude, or need for perfectionism, it is usually triggered by external factors. Too many responsibilities or a high-stakes work project can usually trigger a stress response. Anxiety, on the other hand, is largely internal and depends on how you react to stressors, said clinical psychologist, Narendra Kinger, founder, Talk To Me.
Often, even after the cessation or removal of stressors, some individuals may still feel overwhelmed and/or distressed. This distress is called anxiety. It is an exaggerated reaction or response to a given situation. If the worry and distress you feel in a given situation is unusual, excessive, or lasts much longer than most others, it may be anxiety rather than stress, Kinger told indianexpress.com.
As per Dr Stephen, another distinction is the duration stress lasts until the event is resolved but anxiety can be persistent and last for a very long time.
How do they manifest?
How to cope?
When To See A Doctor
Although chronic stress and anxiety symptoms are well-understood and highly treatable, less than 37% of people who suffer from these conditions seek medical help.
If you believe you are suffering from the unpleasant effects of stress or anxiety, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about ways to help you manage your condition and alleviate your symptoms.
Stress and anxiety are among the most under-reported and under-treated diseases in America. Nearly 20% of adults in the US suffer from mental health illness, and fewer than half receive treatment. Our mission is to increase access to treatment for those suffering in silence.
You can start controlling your stress and anxiety and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $12/month, get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits through the K Health app. Start your free assessment here.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Read Also: Can Stress Cause Stomach Problems
Whats The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety
Knowing the difference can ensure you get the help you need.
Whats the difference between stress and anxiety?
Theres a fine line between stress and anxiety. Both are emotional responses, but stress is typically caused by an external trigger. The trigger can be short-term, such as a work deadline or a fight with a loved one or long-term, such as being unable to work, discrimination, or chronic illness. People under stress experience mental and physical symptoms, such as irritability, anger, fatigue, muscle pain, digestive troubles, and difficulty sleeping.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is defined by persistent, excessive worries that dont go away even in the absence of a stressor. Anxiety leads to a nearly identical set of symptoms as stress: insomnia, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, muscle tension, and irritability.
Both mild stress and mild anxiety respond well to similar coping mechanisms. Physical activity, a nutritious and varied diet, and good sleep hygiene are a good starting point, but there are other .
Anxiety disorders are common. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19% of Americans over the age of 18 had an anxiety disorder in the past year, and 31% of Americans will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetimes.
Lets Talk About Stress
For one, stress is typically defined as a response to an external trigger, and can either be acute or chronic . In an ideal world, the duration of the stress response corresponds with its trigger: Once a stressor has been dealt with, the body can return to its natural baseline state.
Acute stress. Remember the pit in your stomach from before? Thats an example of the stress response, which you might know better as fight-or-flight. When youre triggered by something stressful, your brain floods your body with hormones that push you to react: Blood moves away from digestive organs and into your limbs, allowing you to move more efficiently and quickly. Your heart beats faster and breathing speeds up, bringing more oxygen into the bloodstream.
Stress evolved as a survival mechanism, designed to make it easier for us to fight or flee from life-threatening triggers. Today, even though unreasonable emails do not warrant the same urgency as a hungry tiger on the savannah, our bodies dont know the difference. While stress might not feel great in the moment, it can still be helpful by motivating us to stay alert and take action when we need to.
In fact, the Yerkes-Dodson law in psychology proposes that moderate levels of stress are optimal for peak performance. We tend to talk about this state as being in the zone or in flow. Too little stress leads to low level performance, whereas too much is a recipe for needless fight-or-flight.
Read Also: How To Relieve Stress Headache Fast
How To Tell The Difference Between The Two
Stress and anxiety feel similar but originate from different sources.
When trying to tell the difference between the two conditions, remember that symptoms of stress develop in response to externally stressful stimuli, and will go away when the stressor goes away.
Anxiety symptoms originate internally and come and go whether or not a stressor is physically present.
If you or someone you know is experiencing chest pains, difficulty breathing, or any other signs that could signal a heart attack, call your doctor or visit your nearest emergency room immediately.
Whats The Difference Between Anxiety And Being Stressed
The words stress and anxiety are sometimes used interchangeably. So how can you tell the difference between common stress and an anxiety disorder? Both share many of the same physical symptoms, such as increased heart rate, muscle tension, or rapid breathing. In both cases, your body is releasing hormones to trigger these symptoms.
Stress is a normal, proportional reaction to a stressful situation or external pressures. Its normal to feel stressed about a final exam or job interview.
When we talk about anxiety as in anxiety disorders, anxiety is a condition characterized by feelings of apprehension or unexplained thoughts of impending doom.
Another way to tell the difference between stress and an anxiety disorder is noticing how long your feelings of stress last. When stress lingers for days or weeks and prevents you from carrying out day-to-day activities, then you may be experiencing anxiety. You could be avoiding certain places or situations in fear of what might happen. You may even feel anxious about the fact that youre anxious. If you are having these concerns, you are not alone. Anxiety disorders are common and manageable.
Also Check: What To Do About Stress Acne
What Are Stress & Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are a part of the fight or flight response to threat. When you are in a challenging or charged situation, your body releases adrenaline and cortisol, commonly called stress hormones, that help prime you to take action.
When you are experiencing stress, an external stimulus or situation drives your body to release these stress hormones.
As a result, you may feel temporarily irritable, angry, or afraid,. You may also experience aches and pains or other physical issues.
The good news: Your mood and symptoms will lighten once you have moved away from the person, place, or thing that caused you to feel stress.
Anxiety, on the other hand, originates internally. It may be related to a stressful encounter, but it can also occur in the absence of a specific threat and linger long after a threat is gone.
It has many of the same emotional and physical symptoms that stress does, but they can be more persistent and excessive.
When someones anxiety escalates and becomes intrusive, burdensome, or challenging to manage, they have an anxiety disorder.
In life-threatening situations, being physically and emotionally ready to respond to threats is useful. Anxiety keeps humans from falling prey to dangerous animals and environments because it gives us the tools to perceive threats in advance.
Our stress response is helpful, too, making sure we can act quickly if something scary occurs.
How To Seek Help
When seeking more formalized help for anxiety or depression, start by speaking with your primary care physician.
You can also research local referrals via national organizations including:
Bear in mind that while effective treatment for anxiety or depression need not be a long-term commitment, it is likely to require regular, ongoing appointments at least in the short term . Therefore, it is critical to find a professional you trust and with whom you feel comfortable speaking about your symptoms.
It is equally important to make sure that you find a clinician that you can afford. Before making the commitment to ongoing care, you may want to meet with a couple of providers to get a feel for their therapeutic styles and their treatment recommendations. You can then use this information to determine which path forward feels best to you.
Also Check: How To Stop Stressing About Work