There can be a fine line between worrying and anxiety. How do you know when it’s time to seek help?
We all worry from time to time. In fact, worrying can be a good thing — it’s how the mind prepares you for a potential threat. But if you find you’ve become overwhelmed with worry, it could be a sign your apprehension is turning into anxiety.
Anxiety vs. Worrying: What’s the Difference?
The primary difference between worrying and anxiety is the impact each has on your life. Worrying typically doesn’t interfere with your ability to function in your daily life, whereas someone with anxiety will struggle with daily tasks, like focusing on a work deadline or simply getting out of bed in the morning.
In addition, worries are often tied to specific events — a stressful relationship, a child who’s struggling in school, an upcoming expense you can’t afford. Understandably, these worries cause distress. But that distress can often be controlled or managed with simple coping strategies, such as talking to a friend, journaling or exercising.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is difficult to control and, for some, may feel like it’s completely out of their control. It’s also common for people with anxiety to experience physical symptoms, like sweating, difficulty breathing, a racing heart, muscle pain and chest pain. Anxiety can be tied to a specific event, but unlike worrying, anxiety can also occur for no specific reason.
When Is it Anxiety?
The biggest sign that worrying could be turning into anxiety is how it affects you on a daily basis. If your worries are preventing you from completing your usual daily tasks or affecting your performance at work or at home, you could be dealing with anxiety. And if your apprehension is accompanied by the physical symptoms mentioned above, that’s another sign things may have crossed into anxiety territory.
What Can You Do About It?
If you think you might be dealing with anxiety, it’s important not to avoid the problem, which can turn that worry into anxiety. Likewise, if a certain place, activity or topic of conversation makes you feel anxious, avoiding those situations can increase the anxiety you feel.
Instead, techniques like journaling or meditation can help you become more aware of what you’re feeling and thinking, so you can manage it. Seeking help from a mental healthcare provider can also help. A licensed professional can offer you coping strategies and other resources to help you treat your anxiety. One of the most effective ways of treating anxiety is through participating in cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a treatment many mental health professionals offer.
If you’re feeling anxious, you can speak to a licensed therapist face-to-face from home via a virtual visit.