The difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder

 

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People often tend to confuse the two terms – anxious and anxiety disorder. Many think that the core meaning of these two terms is the same. Yes! indeed. I don’t know how many of you have even heard about the term ‘anxiety disorder’ but let me just break it down for you guys.

According to Google, the term ‘anxious’ means feeling or showing worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. 

Whereas the term ‘anxiety disorder’ are a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear. Anxiety is a worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events. These feelings may cause physical symptoms, such as a fast heart rate and shakiness. 

One thing that people don’t seem to get is that while ‘anxious’ is just like any other feeling which one feels due to nervousness and uncertainty of a happening or an event, the other term – anxiety disorder is a diagnosable disease.

Moving on from the Google definitions of the two terms… according to me, in my own simple language… while feeling anxious involves worrying, fearing and feeling nervous about few specific events and happenings, having an anxiety disorder involves worrying about and fearing everything- be it known and even the unknown.

While the feeling of anxiousness lasts for a short period of time and it ends as soon as the event which made one anxious passes away, one suffering from the anxiety disorder has to deal with fear and nervousness almost all the time and almost everyday.

While the feeling of anxiousness gives one adrenaline rushes which lasts for a few second or so, going through an anxiety disorder involves shivering and shaking, fast and unsteady heartbeat and a constant sinking feeling.

According to an article I was reading about the same, several common types of anxiety disorders are:

  1. Agoraphobia: fear of being in a place from which you can’t escape
  2. Panic Disorder: this triggers recurring intense panic attacks
  3. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: constant worrying
  4. Social Anxiety Disorder: inability to be the center of attention or talk to new people

P.s. guess what? I am going through the first 3 for sure and also through a little bit of the 4th type.

People with anxiety disorders are often anxious all the time.  There is no specific stressor that sets off their anxiety, and their fears are often irrational.  Even though the person with anxiety knows that, in theory, they should not be so worried, they simply cannot get their body to listen to their brain. Intense anxiety can often cause headaches, dizziness, trembling, nausea, etc.  You feel like you can’t talk or breathe.  You can’t think or concentrate about anything other than your fear.  You get red or sweaty.  This is more than just butterflies in your stomach.

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Even though I have given it a lot of shots, I am again going to try and explain my readers what I go through on the inside every minute of my day.

It feels like being thrown in an ocean full of self doubt and worthlessness with no safety gears. I struggle to keep up with the hard hitting waves of the ocean. I struggle to breathe. The water gets to my lungs and my entire body feels like a cold and numb rock. I feel heavy.But hey! I somehow still manage to float instead of drowning and sinking in the ocean, haha.

I question my every move and my every action.

I doubt myself.

I feel ugly.

I feel like everything bad that happens around me is my fault.

I always feel like I will never be enough for anyone and then there are days when I feel like I am just too much for everyone.

I contradict myself and walk around being confused all the time.

I have a hard time making decisions.

My head feels like it will burst because of the overflow of thoughts.

My skin shivers because of my special talents of worrying too much.

Like thousands of bricks have their home in my head, on neck and my back at all times. Living there and keeping me in continuous muscle pain.

And my heart… hmmph. My heart feels like it first sets itself on fire and then later extinguishes itself and then repeats the process.

And while I am sinking and floating in the ocean, it feels like I have people gathered around me. Some are reaching out for my hand which I try to take but fail at the attempts. Some are standing there with their arms folded and are calling me names for not being able to make it out of the ocean by myself. And even though few people are trying to reach out for my hand… I avoid taking their help because I have got anxious ego issues. I hate crying for help. I rather die than ask for help – sometimes it is because of my ego and other times it is because of hopelessness and anxiety that either their offered help will not do me any good or that they will make fun of me and act superior to me.

Every person has their own set of defense mechanism which helps them in pretending to be sane in public and I don’t think my defense mechanism does me any good because I often end up embarrassing myself and my people in public because of my over the top craziness which gets me a lot of hate from the public and hence making me even more socially anxious. Haha.

[ More on defense mechanism in a new blog post.]

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Anxiety becomes a problem, however, when it doesn’t just affect you occasionally.  When it begins to consume your thoughts on the daily basis, that’s when it becomes something more serious.  If it starts to affect your work, personal life, or health, then you might have a real, diagnosable anxiety disorder.  Many people flippantly throw out phrases like “you’re triggering my anxiety” or use anxiety as an excuse, but for some individuals, an anxiety disorder can cause real problems.

If you know someone who has an anxiety disorder, make sure not to make light of their condition.  They can make fun of it if they want to, but you can’t.  Instead, make sure that you are simply there for them if they need help.  Don’t tell them to calm down – they know they need to calm down.  Don’t tell them that you are frustrated or annoyed by their anxiety – they’re probably already super self-conscious about how their anxiety affects the people around them.  Some people may be helped by distractions, others by you sitting and listening, and others simply by sitting in silence with a friend.  Each person’s anxiety is different, just like each person is different.

The most important thing to know about anxiety?  BE KIND.  Be kind to yourself if you suffer from it, and be kind to your friends if they suffer from anxiety. Hold them, be there for them when they need to cry. Be there for them in silence. Listen to their mixed up and self contradictory words..let them speak! And well..a smile and a hug can go a long way.

Until next time. Haha.

-xx.

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