The words “anxious” and “anxiety” are frequently misused in our society, replacing what should be “worry” or “nervous”. Though being worried and feeling nervous are two extremely common symptoms of anxiety, experiencing these two feeling-states is not necessarily an indication of anxiety. Worry and nervousness can be standalone emotional experiences outside of anxiety. Too often, we identify ourselves in alignment with anxiety we don’t have which does a disservice to ourselves as well as those who have diagnosable anxiety disorders. Stigma and misunderstanding often go hand in hand. People misunderstand their nerves or worry for anxiety; likewise, people misunderstand others’ anxiety, or their own, for simple nerves and worry. Problematically, this misunderstanding perpetuates a widespread stigma about anxiety disorders and the people who live with them: that they worry too much, they’re just too nervous, and that they need to “calm down”. Anxiety is an ongoing dysfunction of the sympathetic nervous system which causes the “fight or fight response” to essentially feed on itself, interpreting the very sensation of “fear” as something to be increasingly afraid of. Traumatic events cause anxiety in a multitude of ways; post-traumatic stress disorder is considered an anxiety disorder. Worrying and nervousness is understandable when a person has endured a reality shattering traumatic experience, then lives in fear of the experience repeating itself. As well, their sympathetic nervous system is impacted and transformed in the way that it responds to life, making nearly everything an interpretable threat.
Clinical anxiety and normal anxious feelings of worry and nervousness are distinctly different, but a fine line separates them. Harvard Health explains the difference eloquently. “Anxiety disorders are characterized by severe, persistent worry that is excessive for the situation, and extreme avoidance of anxiety-provoking situations. These symptoms cause distress, impair, daily functioning, and occur for a significant period.” Meaning, the average onset of “butterflies in the stomach”, a sudden pang of worry, or even feeling worried for an extended period of time is not the same as anxiety or an anxiety disorder. Disorders are disorders for a very serious reason. As the Harvard website points out, anxiety disorders are severe and persistent in their symptoms.
If you feel that your tendency towards worry and nervousness has become a severe problem which impairs your ability to live your life, help is available. Trauma may be a source of your suffering and can be healed.
Learning to be is part of the process of trauma recovery. Stop the cycle of merry-go-round treatment and find the solution you’re looking for in trauma treatment. Through effective residential treatment, Khiron House helps you find the path you need toward health and wellness in recovery. For information, call us today. UK: 020 3811 2575 (24 hours). USA: (866) 801 6184 (24 hours).