Do I Have Normal, Everyday Anxiety Or An Actual Anxiety Disorder?

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Do I Have Normal, Everyday Anxiety Or An Actual Anxiety Disorder?

It can be challenging to differentiate between normal, everyday anxiety, and an actual anxiety disorder. Anxiety can be distressing for someone who has never dealt with it before. They may question if they are going crazy. They may even consider seeking help — this is a positive thing. Even if someone does not have a diagnosed disorder, seeking help can be beneficial. It can be tricky to recognize what the symptoms are of an actual mental illness. Where is the line drawn? Pinnacle Recovery is here to help.

DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance)
  • The individual finds it difficult to control the worry
  • The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some of the symptoms have been present for more days than not for the past 6 months)
    • Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
    • Being easily fatigued
    • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
  • The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
  • The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., a drug of abuse, a medication) or another medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism)
  • The disturbance is not better explained by another mental disorder (e.g.., anxiety or worry about having panic attacks in panic disorder, a negative evaluation in social anxiety disorder, contamination or other obsessions in obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation from attachment figures in separation anxiety disorder, reminders of traumatic events in post-traumatic stress disorder, gaining weight in anorexia nervosa, physical complaints in somatic symptoms disorder, perceived appearance flaws in body dysmorphic disorder, having a serious illness in illness anxiety disorder, or the content of delusional beliefs in schizophrenia or delusional disorder)

Anxiety versus Anxiety Disorder

Now that we know what an anxiety disorder looks like, we want to be able to identify regular anxiety and compare it to the anxiety disorder above. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are dealing with some symptoms of everyday anxiety?

  • Is this a normal reaction to stress or a difficult situation?
  • Is the anxiety a response to a specific stressor or situation?
  • Does a toxic situation trigger anxiety?
  • Will my anxiety lessen significantly or disappear entirely once the stressful situation subsides?
  • Does my anxiety have a specific start and endpoint?
  • Will relaxing help me feel better?
  • Can my anxiety be helpful or motivational? 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an anxiety disorder, reach out to Pinnacle Recovery today. We can help you deal with your anxiety in a healthy way. We also have dual diagnosis programs for those who need help with a co-occurring substance use disorder. Call 1-866-301-0573 now to see how we can help you today. We can’t wait to hear from you. 

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