11 Signs Your Everyday Worrying Is Actually Normal & Not An Anxiety Disorder
Even if you feel like the happiness person in the world, you're bound to experience some anxiety, but not every situation where you have anxiety means you have a disorder. If you get anxious occasionally, but it doesn't greatly impede on your life, then you are likely showing signs that your anxiety is actually normal. Sometimes life throws us curveballs, and we have to deal with them emotionally; other times, we are simply hungry or tired and can't cope with things like we normally would. Either way, some anxiety is bound to happen, and there's no cause to worry when you start to experience the uncomfortable feeling.
"Anxiety, the feeling, is a normal reaction to stress, and can actually be beneficial in some situations," says Shanthi Mogali, MD, Director of Psychiatry at Mountainside Treatment Center, over email. "It drives the fight or flight response and is our body’s natural way of defending itself in a harmful situations. Usual or normal anxiety occurs in response to a stressor of some sort. Anxiety can rise from midterms/finals for students, a breakup with a girlfriend or boyfriend, having a fight with a peer, applying for a new job, or general peer pressure, etc."
If you experience some anxiety, but you're not sure if it's a greater disorder or not, pay attention to these 11 signs that your anxiety is normal. You should also always talk to your doctor if you feel like your anxiety is too much.
1. It's Usually Triggered By Clear Stressor
"You typically do not experience anxiety or notice you are anxious unless there is a life event that is coming up or something in your life is changing," says psychotherapist Angela Ficken over email. "That can be a key way to acknowledge that the event is the trigger to your anxiety and once it’s over, anxiety will subside."
2. It Doesn't Interfere With Your Daily Functioning
Anxiety about a stressor can take over your mind for a certain amount of time, but it won't interfere with your overall wellbeing or daily functioning. "You are able to get your work done, stay in contact with your friends and loved ones, and you also take care of yourself, such as exercising or listening to a fun podcast," says Ficken.
3. It Eventually Goes Away
Because normal anxiety is the result of a stressor, it ultimately goes away or subsides. "If an individual’s level of anxiety goes away after a triggering event is over, that is usually an indicator that the feelings of anxiety are a normal psychological response," says Dr. Sal Raichbach PsyD, LCSW of Ambrosia Treatment Center, over email.
4. It Motivates You
"Without some degree of anxiety, motivation for certain activities can be difficult," says psychotherapist Jon Belford, PsyD over email. "Anxiety by nature is stimulating and can drive us to achieve our goals, meet deadlines, and stay on top of necessary tasks." Anxiety is beyond a healthy range when it causes us to avoid activities or situations, impairs functioning or causes undue discomfort without driving behaviors towards resolving a particular issue.
5. It Focuses On Things You Can Control
Anxiety is adaptive when focused on areas where we have a sense of agency and can positively impact an anticipated outcome. "Excessive worry about things we can’t control is ultimately wasted energy and reinforces negative thinking," says Belford. "It is normal to have some degree of worry about dire situations such as disasters or illness, but ultimately we should be able to compartmentalize these concerns, take appropriate precautions, move forward, and enjoy the moment."
6. There Are No Other Symptoms
Symptoms of anxiety disorders aren’t limited to restless feelings and uneasiness. "Often individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders display other symptoms such as nausea, increased heart rate, and difficulty concentrating when their anxiety is triggered," says Raichbach.
7. It Doesn't Get Worse In Social Situations
"People with anxiety disorders often avoid social situations because they constantly fear being judged or embarrassed," says Raicbach. "For some, the anticipation of social interactions is enough to worsen symptoms."
8. It Happens In New Situations
New situations cause anxiety because as it helps your brain and body stay alert to the new experience. "That flutter in your heart on a first date means you'll be able to recall more of it, or that twinge of anxiety as you're walking down an alley makes you more aware of small noises around you," says Torgerson.
9. You Are Able To Manage It
If you feel able to manage and lower your level of anxiety, that is within the "normal" realm. "Many people with an anxiety disorder feel unable to control their spikes in anxiety or have difficulty predicting when their next bout of anxiety is going to arrive," says Kelsey Torgerson, MSW, LCSW over email.
10. It's Only Once Or Twice A Week
There is no specific "normal" amount of time to experience anxiety, but if you only experience anxiety once or twice a week, it's probably not cause for concern. "People who suffer from anxiety often experience it more days than not, even multiple times a day, for months at a time," says Torgerson.
11. You Rarely Feel Bothered By It
Anxiety disorder can take over your life, but normal levels of anxiety won't bother a person as much. "You don’t notice it as part of your emotions on a daily basis, and if you do feel somewhat anxious, you quickly engage in healthy skills to manage it," says Ficken. "You do not allow it to linger."