When does anxiety become a disorder?

Guest blog on anxiety co-written by Altruist Enterprises, experts in managing stress in the workplace, and Medstars.

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point in their life. Whether it is your first day of work, in the moments before giving a presentation to a large group of people, or whilst sat in what appears to be a never-ending traffic jam. However, there is a point when levels of anxiety become abnormal and develop into a disorder.

General Anxiety Disorder affects around 5% of the UK’s population, and can have severe implications for your general functioning.

There are a variety of factors that indicate when your anxiety may have become a disorder. These are some to look out for:

  1. Feeling anxious most days and as soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.
  2. An inability to function well and relax, which is manifested in difficulty concentrating and irritability.
  3. Restlessness.
  4. A disrupted social life.
  5. Frequent illness and absence from work
anxious woman sat on bed
Some people find it hard to control their worries

Anxiety occurs as the result of a normal biological reaction in your body, called the fight-or-flight response. This is the internal process the body goes through when preparing a response to a difficult or stressful situation, and is how your body makes the decision to confront the situation, or run away from it. During the process, large amounts of adrenaline and cortisol are released into the bloodstream, resulting in the perception that everything in the surrounding environment is a threat. An anxiety disorder occurs when you have an overactive fight-or-flight response, resulting in the perception of non-threats to be threatening.

Physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  1. Dizziness
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Heart palpitations
  4. Pins and needles
  5. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
anxious man struggling to sleep
Anxiety can cause difficulties falling and staying asleep

Anxiety disorders are often successfully treated through therapy or medication, particularly those disorders that are identified early on. However, according to statistics presented by Anxiety UK, whilst 25% of cases of General Anxiety Disorder occur in individuals aged over 50, only a third of them receive treatment.

In understanding when anxiety is abnormal, we can ensure that all sufferers are getting the help they need, before their symptoms manifest themselves in ways that could be harmful. For example, individuals with anxiety disorders tend to avoid all situations in which they may feel vulnerable, potentially resulting in them neglecting social and work commitments. Furthermore, their anxiety may have an effect on their social skills and abilities to maintain relationships with friends and colleagues.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety be sure to seek out support. You can book a consultation with one of our experts below who have specific expertise in treating anxiety disorders and depression.

Consultant Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist

First Visit £150

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