What Does Normal Anxiety Look Like?

Experiencing anxiety is not a mental health problem. Having what is sometimes called abnormal (neurotic) anxiety can indicate several things, including a mental health issue.

Sometimes the edge between normal and neurotic anxiety blurs, but by definition, they are distinct in the following three ways:

1. Normal Anxiety is Appropriate to the Situation

Experiencing anxiety before job interviews, school exams, moving, or taking a vacation is common. Some people have trouble eating, sleeping, and focusing when they are anxious, but they go to the job interview, take the exam, pack their belongings, or get on a plane for Tahiti.

Abnormal anxiety exceeds the situation or blows the danger out of proportion. If a parent keeps his or her child indoors out of fear the child will get hurt, the parent’s anxiety is keeping the child from healthy developmental experiences. The child could pick up the anxiety from the parent and carry it into adolescence and adulthood as well.

2. Normal Anxiety Does Not Need To Be Repressed

Normal anxiety can be very uncomfortable, but people come to terms with it. They may hate the feeling, but they do not suppress it. Right before playing in a piano recital, the performer might have forgotten everything, feel nauseous, and have the shakes, but they walk out on stage and start playing.

If, on the morning of a job interview, the job seeker stays in bed instead of going to the interview, their anxiety is being repressed or held captive by the ineffective coping mechanism of pretending to be ill. Doing this once does not indicate an anxiety disorder, but behaving the same way repeatedly indicates something.

3. Normal Anxiety Can Be Used Constructively

Anxiety can prompt us to face the problem or event causing our discomfort. In this way, it is a tool for personal growth and problem-solving. Many people report channeling their anxiety and using it constructively.

Problematic anxiety is destructive because it paralyzes people instead of stimulating their creative juices. If a person continuously freezes when taking school exams, possibly preventing them from realizing his or her potential, the anxiety is of the abnormal variety.

Difficult to Avoid
Ultimately, our experience of anxiety comes from uncertainty about the meaning of life, seeing a gulf between ourselves and others (feeling alone), the responsibility of creating our own life (i.e, making choices, taking risks), and the knowledge of our mortality (loss of self). A person might get anxious just reading that previous sentence.

How we come to terms with the uncertainties and mysteries of life is, at least for now, part of the human experience. Though anxiety is a largely unwanted feeling, it is part of our survival mechanism and responsible for much creative thought and invention.

Photo by Tim Gouw from Pexels

Anxiety Support Groups

Latest Post by bali bae Tue, 11/19/2019 - 1:10pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by bali bae Tue, 11/19/2019 - 1:09pm
Comments: 3
Latest Post by bali bae Tue, 11/19/2019 - 1:14pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:58pm
Comments: 2

More Articles

Catastrophe anxiety, or put just as well, catastrophic thinking, is a kind of anxiety disorder defined in Psychology Today as "ruminating about...

Prayer for anxiety may help some with dealing with the disorder. Listed below are the anxiety prayers that personally help me. Whatever your faith...

If you suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder, you probably feel fearful a lot of the time. Don’t let fear and anxiety rule your life!...

I subscribe to the Psychotherapy Networker e-newsletter and just read a great article by Nancy Errebo, Psy. D., about using EMDR with a returning...

Controlling stress and anxiety could lead to a reduction in the number of hot or cold flashes. Hot flashes also include sweaty palms. The more...

More Articles

Here comes that dreaded feeling of overwhelm.

It is not just that you have a lot to do. In fact, you may not have that much to do, but your...

Calming your anxiety and nerves is easier said than done. “Just relax” doesn’t work, and “it’s okay” doesn’t help! So what do you do?

First...

Part of going to school is taking tests, and you may be one of many students that experience intense test anxiety. This performance anxiety comes...

According to new research, T cells—best known for their role in fighting infections—may be one of the key players in elevated blood pressure...

We are aware of which foods to avoid when struggling with generalized anxiety disorder, but knowing which items can actually help reduce your...

In many cases, a mental disorder can be just as disabling as a physical one. That seems to be the case with Los Angeles Dodger Hong-Chih Kuo, who...

What is an Anxiety Disorder? An “anxiety disorder” is an umbrella term that refers to a number of different mental health conditions. While...

Fresh out of college and searching for her first real job, Lauren had interviews lined up and was ready to prove herself in the big leagues. Yet,...

Women might have a leg up on men when it comes to interviewing for a job, say researchers at the University of Western Toronto. The data from a...

Postpartum depression and anxiety are real, debilitating disorders that affect some women after they give birth.

Brought on by hormone...

Feelings of anxiety and stress cause a number of physical and chemical changes in the body, including the release of adrenaline and other hormones...

Anorexia nervosa is a disease that tends to affect younger women, and cases have been on the rise for years. Now, analysis of a 3,000 person data...

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mix of mindfulness meditation and simple yoga poses. It has been proven to help people reduce...

When you struggle to fall asleep night after night due to severe anxiety, you may find your symptoms getting worse; lack of sleep is one of the...

There is no one cause for anxiety but several factors that contribute to its development. Scientists have broken them down into three parts: brain...