The Good And The Bad Of Anxiety

A man leaning on a wall experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety is a common experience that many people wish they didn’t have to deal with. However, it’s important to understand that anxiety serves a purpose in our daily lives. When challenges arise that trigger anxiety, it’s our response to those challenges that determines whether anxiety is a healthy or unhealthy emotion.

A Look At Productive Worry 

Good worry can be productive, like a survival technique or a personal radar system. It helps us take clear, decisive actions and move forward. For example, when driving, we scan the road to be aware of our surroundings and respond appropriately. Without this skill, we could quickly get into trouble.

Anxiety can sometimes be a positive force, motivating us to do something good, like studying for an upcoming test or being cautious while driving on a slippery road. Feeling anxious temporarily in these stressful situations is typical and expected.

A Look At Unproductive Worry

Bad worry is unproductive and can lead to anxiety that paralyzes us from making decisions. Instead of taking action, we spend time ruminating and worrying about things that may never happen or are too far to address. It’s important to distinguish between good and bad worries to use our energy effectively.

However, it becomes a significant concern when worry consumes you. Do you find yourself in a constant state of anxiety? Do your friends and family notice that you always seem on edge? Take a moment to reflect on all the unnecessary or unrealistic things you have worried about. If your anxiety is excessive or severe, you will likely find that most of those things that you were stressing over never actually happened.

When Anxiety Is Out Of Control

Everyone experiences the typical stresses of daily living at some point. We have jobs, family, illnesses, bills, and other responsibilities that can cause anxiety. But suppose you find that your worry is starting to interfere with your daily life. In that case, you might be suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Here are some primary symptoms that may indicate you are struggling with an anxiety disorder:

  • Feeling nervous
  • Feeling powerless
  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry

Individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) experience excessive worry and tension, often anticipating the worst possible outcome even when there is no apparent reason for concern. They tend to fear that a catastrophe is imminent and become overly anxious about their health, finances, family, work, or other issues. 

This persistent anxiety and worry about everyday things, even when there is no apparent reason to worry, takes a toll on the individual’s well-being. They usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation requires but can’t seem to shake off their concerns. As a result, they find it hard to relax, which can cause difficulties in falling and staying asleep. Their worries are often accompanied by physical symptoms such as trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating, or hot flashes. They may also feel lightheaded or out of breath, experience nausea, have the urge to go to the bathroom frequently, or feel like they have a lump in their throat.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a mental health condition that affects both children and adults. While mild symptoms of GAD may not impact a person’s social life or job, severe symptoms can be debilitating and make it difficult for them to carry out daily activities. Symptoms of GAD can fluctuate over time and may worsen during stressful periods. 

Even though the onset of GAD is usually gradual and can occur during childhood or adolescence, it can also develop in adulthood. Women are more likely to be affected by GAD than men, and there is often a hereditary component to the disorder. While the exact cause of GAD is unknown, biological factors, family history, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, are thought to play a role. 

Getting Help

Getting diagnosed with GAD can be somewhat tricky because people experiencing excessive anxiety will often have physical symptoms that drive them to make many appointments with their family physician, complaining that their health is poor. They do not realize that their anxiety is the underlying cause of their symptoms.

If you seem to be dealing with overwhelming anxiety and you can relate to some of the above, don’t hesitate to seek help. First, understand that you are not alone. GAD annually affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the United States population. Secondly, anxiety disorders are treatable. They are one of the most treatable conditions of all emotional disorders.

When it comes to treating anxiety disorders, research shows that therapy is usually the most effective option. Unlike anxiety medication, therapy treats more than just the symptoms of the problem. It can help you uncover the underlying causes of your worries and fears; learn how to relax; look at the situations in new, less frightening ways; and develop better coping and problem solving skills. Therapy gives you the tools to overcome anxiety and teaches you how to use them.

Anxiety is not you. It’s something moving through you. It can leave out of the same door it came in. – James Clear

Working with a coach is a great way to learn strategies to manage stress.  A coach can help you discover and master anxiety relief techniques that will keep you from becoming overwhelmed when “life” happens.

Hi, I’m Kris Henderson. I want you to know that I am here to help. If you desire personalized support, I invite you to contact me or schedule your phone call.  Together, we can work on strategies that will help you live a more balanced and less anxious-filled life.