Anxiety: When It Is More Than Just A Case Of Nerves

We all experience everyday stress and anxiety about work, finances, parenting, and our relationships.  Normal anxiety can be beneficial to us because it helps us become aware of warning signs that indicate that we need to take action in order to stay out of harm’s way.  However, anxiety can also be experienced as persistent, excessive, and overwhelming which can negatively impact our daily functioning.  So how can we tell when normal, everyday anxiety is no longer ‘normal’ or expected but is considered to be an anxiety disorder? Below you can learn about the differences in the levels of severity of anxiety and understand the warning signs that may indicate treatment:

Realistic Worry                   

Moderate worry about being able to pay the bills, find a job, manage stress within a relationship, or stress of being a parent.

Realistic Fear

Feeling fearful or afraid of a threatening or dangerous person, situation, or object.

Realistic Embarrassment

Feeling self-conscious or embarrassed in an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

Realistic Reactions to Traumatic Event

Experiencing symptoms of anxiety, sadness, or sleep problems immediately following the trauma.

Realistic Nervousness

Experiencing a degree of nervousness or anxiety before an interview, exam, date, or a presentation.


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Excessive and persistent anxiety that is uncontrollable, causing significant distress and impairs daily functioning.

Specific Phobia

Avoidance of a person, place, or object that do not pose any threats due to irrational fears.

Social Anxiety

Excessive fears of being judged, humiliated, or embarrassed resulting in avoidance of social situations.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Recurrent flashbacks, nightmares, or emotional numbing in response to a traumatic event experienced several months or years prior.

Panic Disorder

Physical and emotional symptoms that appear to be unrelated to an event and result in excessive worry about experiencing more symptoms in the future.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders in the United States and can be related to genetic factors, brain chemistry, personalities, and life events.  Like depression, anxiety disorders are highly treatable through various treatment options including medication, psychotherapy, and alternative treatments such as lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise, relaxation and meditation practices, yoga, acupuncture, and some vitamin supplements.  It is recommended to visit your Primary Care Physician to rule out any organic causes of anxiety prior to starting any other treatment.  If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms, don’t hesitate to take action now!

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT