Not Everyone Has An Anxiety Disorder

Written by: Alyssa Tyler, Assistant Editor

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Everyone has anxiety. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety is often tied to public speaking, doing something out of someone’s comfort zone and doing something new. This form of anxiety is completely healthy and needed for day-to-day activities and routines. But, having an anxiety disorder is something entirely different. An anxiety disorder is a near-constant state of fear, anxiety and paranoia that can reach some type of anxiety or panic attack in minutes. In today’s world, having a mental illness, especially anxiety, seems to be a new trend. Many think by just having anxiety in normal cases, is a disorder. A true anxiety disorder can be debilitating for some, but all anxiety disorders require a medical diagnosis by a doctor. People need to know the difference between healthy anxiety and when the anxiety turns into a disorder. 

Beyond Blue, a nonprofit organization that advocates for depression/anxiety states there are six types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic disorder, social anxiety and specific phobias. According to Owen Kelly, PhD, a person must experience, excessive worrying about a variety of topics, ideas and situations that have gone on for at least six months. The anxiety is very difficult to control and must be accompanied by at least three of these physical and emotional symptoms: edginess or restlessness, easily fatigued, impaired focus, irritability, increased muscle aches and sores and trouble sleeping.

Guidance counselor Vicky Herbster says that about 70% of the school’s population experiences anxiety, but it is mainly stressed related. Herbster also says only 10-15% have an actual anxiety disorder. 

That’s where a lot of people think that they have anxiety or an anxiety disorder. But anxiety is internal, stress is an external thing. A lot of times we develop that anxiety as a result of the external stress that we feel,” says Herbster. 

Herbster also believes that anxiety is often over-portrayed in media. This leads to people believing they have a ‘common’ anxiety disorder, which is, in fact, just stress. On social media platforms like Instagram, #anxiety has 12.7 million posts. The majority of the posts talked about stress, taking a breath (from stress), being positive and to do what only makes someone happy. This isn’t what an anxiety disorder really is. Stress is an external force that may cause anxiety, but it does not cause an anxiety disorder. Instagram has 1 billion active users and 90 percent of those users are under 35. The idea that an anxiety disorder is the same thing as the emotion, is only making people, especially younger, think that they have a disorder instead of just a healthy emotion. 

Having an anxiety disorder is not a cute or quirky trend that everyone has to have. It is an actual mental illness; one that takes years of learning just to manage. Anxiety is a healthy emotion that helps determine responses to situations. It only becomes a disorder when it goes to the point where they can no longer function in their day-to-day life. 

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