Dec 04, 2023 Magazine \ Self Improvement

Anxiety: When is it a problem?
A: Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you cope with tense situations. It also helps you focus on the task at hand and motivates you. Almost everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Typically, anxiety goes away when the triggering event is resolved.

However, anxiety is a problem when it becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, such as riding an elevator or leaving your house. People with anxiety disorder experience fear and worry that are out of proportion to the situation. These feelings are difficult to control and are more intense and last longer than normal feelings of anxiety. For instance, while it's normal to feel anxiety before public speaking, a person with anxiety disorder may consistently worry about speaking with small groups of people in everyday situations.

Both normal worry and anxiety may be associated with the following symptoms. However, a person with anxiety disorder will experience these symptoms more frequently and intensely:

* Restlessness
* Fatigue
* Irritability and crankiness
* Muscle tension
* Headaches
* Sleep difficulties (unable to fall or stay asleep)
* Feelings of panic, such as sweating and shortness of breath

If you find it difficult to control your worry or stress or if anxiety interferes with your daily activities, consult your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, effective treatment is available.

© 1998-2007 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER).
Posted on 30 Jul 2008
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