Anxiety vs. Chronic Anxiety: What's The Difference?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to certain situations, and in some instances can be very beneficial. The proper amount of anxiety experienced at the proper time can increase alertness, provide motivation, increase preparedness, help avoid harm, and even help provide support and develop relationships. Chronic anxiety, however, is an out-of-proportion response that largely negates these benefits. When chronic anxiety becomes uncontrollable and interferes with daily life, it is diagnosed as a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

People who suffer from chronic anxiety or GAD have constant and exaggerated feelings of worry that are not the result of a credible threat. They are often concerned about normal things, like money, health, relationships, or work, but they worry about them at abnormal levels. Chronic worriers often are aware that their anxiety is excessive, but they are unable to do anything about it.

As one might expect, constantly anticipating disaster takes an emotional and phsyical toll. People with chronic anxiety experience physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes. They are unable to relax, startle easily, and have trouble concentrating and sleeping. People with chronic anxiety also often have other anxiety disorders, depression, or substance abuse issues.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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