Everyone gets stressed. Maybe you’re running late for work. Perhaps you have a big presentation due for work, or are having some financial issues that have you worried. That’s referred to as occasional anxiety.
An anxiety disorder, however, is more serious, but also harder for some people to understand. People with anxiety disorders find that their problems don’t dissipate over time; instead, they seem to loom larger. They may exhibit physical symptoms, such as fatigue, an upset stomach, or trouble sleeping. They may be susceptible to panic attacks, or have trouble interacting with others in social situations.
One woman I know struggled to make phone calls because of her anxiety issues; talking to strangers gave her social anxiety. Others feel like something bad will happen, even when there seems like there’s no cause for worry. Many struggle to discuss their feelings with others, or fail to mention it to doctors. They feel uncomfortable when others write off their behavior as “just stress” or wonder why they are so worked up about certain things.
Anxiety, however, is far more common than we realize. It’s important to not stigmatize the issue and to listen to those who might be struggling. There is no shame in speaking to a doctor or therapist, or seeking treatment for anxiety. Sometimes when people say they are ill, they don’t necessarily mean physically. It’s a serious issue and goes way beyond being a “worrywart” or “stress-head.” Be sympathetic.