When Worry Turns Into An Anxiety Disorder

When Worry Turns Into An Anxiety Disorder

Have you ever found your mind racing when considering a new job or starting school? If not, have you experienced restlessness or continuously felt worried? Being worried is a normal response, and you are likely to experience it in your life. Less common is having an anxiety disorder, where the effects inhibit you from being able to function. 

If you are unsure whether you have normal feelings of worry or an anxiety disorder, the first step is understanding the difference between the two. However, working with a mental health care professional such as those at Laguna Shores Recovery Center is the best way to know how to manage feelings of worry and anxiety. 

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

There are many different types of anxiety disorders. If you are experiencing one, feelings of anxiety are persistent and often increase over time. While each anxiety disorder includes feeling anxious, they are unique disorders. Types of anxiety disorders include: 

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder 
  • Phobia related disorders

An anxiety disorder can be the result of both environmental and genetic factors. Risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder are different. However, researchers have found that common risk factors include:

  • Shyness
  • Distress in new situations
  • Nervousness as a child
  • Exposure to stress
  • Trauma
  • Other mental health challenges
  • Family history of anxiety disorders or other mental health disorders 


Every type of anxiety disorder has unique symptoms. GAD is the anxiety disorder that is often what you think of when you imagine an anxiety disorder. Symptoms of GAD include frequent feelings of anxiety. It can also include restlessness, lack of focus, sleep issues, and irritability. Finally, GAD can impact how you feel physically, causing muscle aches, general pain, and headaches. Symptoms of GAD are not always the same. If you are uncertain whether you are dealing with it, getting a diagnosis from a doctor is the best way to know. 

Symptoms of other anxiety disorders vary. If you are experiencing social anxiety disorder and physical-related disorders, your anxiety is related to specific locations, things, and situations. However, if you are experiencing panic disorder, you experience frequent and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden and intense feeling of fear or anxiety. 

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental condition. It is generally characterized as excessive apprehension or concern. In certain situations, anxiety is a healthy response. For example, if threatened in some way, you will feel anxiety. However, once the threat has passed, the feeling of anxiety will fade. Anxiety commonly creates behavioral patterns where you avoid things, places, and people that cause you anxiety. 

How Does an Anxiety Disorder Differ From Normal Worry?

In all types of anxiety disorders, feeling anxiety is a symptom. The words anxiety and worry often are used interchangeably. However, they are very different in many ways. 

Feeling worried occurs in the mind. If you are worried about missing a flight or a big event coming up, you will likely be thinking about it a lot. However, if you are facing an anxiety disorder and experiencing anxiety, you likely have physical symptoms along with mental worry. Symptoms like physical restlessness, lightheaded, or digestive problems are common with anxiety. 

Anxiety is a generalized feeling that you can have due to an actual or perceived threat. Therefore, if you are experiencing anxiety, it is often not related to a specific event or situation but more of an overarching feeling. Worry, however, is related to a specific situation. Once that has passed, your feelings of worry will slowly change and be forgotten. 

A prime example of worry would be you have a big presentation at work. You’re worried about how the client or your boss will perceive you. You are hoping for a promotion and are worried you won’t get it. This is the worry that everyone experiences much like before taking a test, going on a first date, or having a difficult conversation. However, anxiety is worry multiplied. It often feels irrational, cannot be explained away, and impacts your functionality. 

If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder, you are faced with many challenges. Regardless of the type, anxiety disorders often stop you from being able to live your life in a healthy way. The continuous challenge of mental, emotional, and physical symptoms of anxiety makes it hard to go about your daily life. This is very different from worry. Even excessive worry is generally not debilitating in the same way that anxiety is. 

Having trouble sleeping before a big event would be a form of excessive worry. Having trouble sleeping every night, replaying how things will go in your mind over and over, or panicking about everyday tasks would be anxiety.

Anxiety Disorder Treatment

While anxiety disorders are very challenging, they are treatable. Treatment for an anxiety disorder commonly includes:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Medication 
  • Peer group support
  • Lifestyle changes 

The specifics of treatment are unique and adjusted to suit your needs. However, the combination of treatments allows you to live your life with more satisfaction, clarity, and joy. 

Managing Normal Worry

If you are feeling worried, even normal worry, it can be uncomfortable. While normal worry does not require treatment, you can make many adjustments to feel better and manage your concern. Managing worry often has two parts, becoming aware of what is causing worry and finding a way to decompress.

When you are aware of what is causing you to feel worried, you are more likely to be able to adjust it. This might look like not watching certain new stations or movies. Decompressing from worry involves finding ways for you to feel relaxed. While your de-stressing techniques are unique, options like meditation, exercise, and getting outdoors are all great options to try. Laguna Shores Recovery Center can help you get started on your journey to wellness today! 

If you are unsure whether you are experiencing normal worry or have an anxiety disorder, that is okay. It is a confusing topic, and while it is helpful to understand the difference, truly knowing if you have an anxiety disorder requires getting help from a mental health care professional. At Laguna Shores Recovery Center, we understand that symptoms can be hard to decipher. Our staff helps individuals learn about their mental health, providing diagnosis and treatment options. We can help you to heal from mental health disorders and addiction by helping you build skills to improve how you feel daily. To learn more about our programs, call (866) 774-1532 and speak with a staff member today.