Are You Anxious? Or Do You Have An Anxiety Disorder? This Is How You Can Tell the Difference.

Are You Anxious? Or Do You Have An Anxiety Disorder? This Is How You Can Tell the Difference.
With the rise of social media and mental health awareness, you might be hearing the term anxiety more than normal. Anxiety can be a normal response to a stressful situation, but it can also be a disruptive mental health issue. Knowing the difference between the two can be difficult. When do your feelings of anxiety cross the threshold into a clinical disorder? We’re here to help you find the answer to that question.

How to Recognize Feeling Anxious

“Normal” anxiety is a natural response to stressors or perceived threats in our environment. Everyone will experience it at some time or another. It’s as normal as being angry at your favorite sport’s team loss or feeling happy when your favorite artist releases new music. Feeling anxious is a temporary state of apprehension, worry, or unease that typically goes away.

You may feel anxiety in situations like public speaking, job interviews, moving to a new city, starting a new job, or finally meeting your partner’s parents who have insanely high standards. Any of these moments are understandably anxiety-provoking, causing thoughts of worry and doubt.

“Normal” anxiety is often proportional to the situation you face and will often go away after you do the scary thing. It also won’t significantly impair your daily functioning or quality of life. It may cause discomfort or temporary distress, but you can still perform routine tasks or engage in social activities.

What is an Anxiety Disorder?

Unlike the temporary anxious feeling, anxiety disorders involve persistent and excessive worry or fear that is considered extreme to the actual threat or situation. For example, if you’re struggling with social anxiety, you may have trouble going to the grocery store because the idea of having to talk to the cashier makes your palms sweat. Or if you have generalized anxiety disorder, you may excessively worry about the drive home because what if your brakes stop working? What if someone rushes in front of your car? What if another car runs a red light and hits you?

These are all concerns that most people without anxiety don’t worry about in their day-to-day lives. An anxiety disorder is persistent and can impact various areas of your life. As stated in the examples, someone with anxiety may have difficulty completing normal tasks like getting groceries, driving home, talking to people, going to work, and more.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders may include persistent feelings of dread or doom, racing thoughts, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, and physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, or shortness of breath. If you’ve been experiencing these symptoms for more than a couple of months, you should reach out to a mental health professional.

Differentiating Between Normal Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Now that you know the key differences between the two types of anxiety, let’s take a deeper look into how you can determine which kind of anxiety you’re experiencing. It all comes down to a few different factors:

Duration and Frequency

Normal anxiety is temporary and situational, whereas anxiety disorders involve persistent symptoms that can last for weeks, months, or even years.
Severity: While normal anxiety may cause discomfort, anxiety disorders often cause significant distress and can impair your daily life.


While normal anxiety may cause discomfort, anxiety disorders often cause significant distress and can impair your daily life.

Interference with Functioning

Anxiety disorders interfere with one’s ability to carry out daily tasks, maintain relationships, or pursue goals, whereas normal anxiety won’t generally disrupt functioning to the same extent.

Impact on Well-Being

Anxiety disorders can impact your mental, emotional, and physical well-being, leading to chronic stress, fatigue, and other health issues. An anxious thought or two in a stressful situation will not likely impact other areas of your life.

Seeking Help For Your Anxious Thoughts

If you’re unsure whether your feelings of anxiety are healthy and normal, or if they are signs of an anxiety disorder, it’s time to consult a qualified mental health professional. No matter whether you have a disorder or not, if you feel something is wrong, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
At With Behavioral Health, we offer an intensive outpatient program centered around group therapy so that you can give and receive support from others facing similar struggles. Together, we hope to help each other navigate their mental health journey and find relief from anxiety symptoms. Remember, you don’t have to face anxiety alone—support and help are available. Contact us to schedule your intake appointment today.

Schedule Your Appointment Online

It all begins with a conversation. Everyone’s treatment plan is different. Schedule an intake appointment below to speak to with our therapists and learn more about the treatment options available for you.

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It’s cozy, comfortable, and the opposite of clinical. This is all very intentional and all for you.

We want to make sure that you have the most comfortable, safest, and most supportive space possible so you can create the space you need to get the most out of your treatment.

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2203 N Lois Ave, Suite 220
Tampa, FL 33607