Anxiety: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Posted on April 28, 2015



For me, anxiety and nervousness have always gone hand in hand. But if anxiety is different from nervousness, then what is the distinguishing factor that separates anxiety from nervousness? Also, how is it decided when a person has a normal amount of anxiety versus when a person is anxious enough that he or she needs to be medicated? Small amounts of anxiety are good for your body, but if you are living your life in a constant state of anxiety, then the anxiety can be detrimental to your body.
There are numerous benefits to anxiety. In Ann Pietrangelo’s article, “Recognizing Anxiety: Symptoms, Signs and Risk Factors,” she writes that “in the short term, anxiety increases your breathing rate and heart rate, concentrating the blood flow to your brain, where you need it.” This response to anxiety prepares you for “intense situations,” and ultimately provides you with the fight or flight response. However, if you experience this extensively or too frequently, you may become “lightheaded and nauseous,” which are examples of the negative side effects of having too much anxiety.

Types of anxiety include but are not limited to the following; generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, and panic disorder. Each type of anxiety leads to a person responding in a different way. Generalized anxiety disorder, for example, allows the people who suffer from this disorder to “function fairly normally” even though they suffer from “excessive anxiety.” On the other hand, social anxiety disorder “can leave one feeling ashamed and alone.” If a person suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, then “episodes of anxiety may be triggered without warning.” The desire to have something done a particular way is often a result of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Phobias create anxiety because of the fear of an object. Finally, panic disorder “causes panic attacks, spontaneous feelings of terror, or impending doom. Physical symptoms include heart palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath.” Such anxiety disorders hinder a person’s ability to live his or her life to the fullest because of a fear or anxiety that something detrimental might happen to him or her.

These anxiety disorders have many identifiable symptoms. First of all, if you believe you have an anxiety disorder, you must display a “magnified worry about something for more than six months.” By displaying a “magnified worry” for “more than six months,” you demonstrate that your anxiety is serious and not going to go away. General symptoms of anxiety disorders include nervousness, irritability, restlessness, trouble sleeping, fatigue, and trouble concentrating.” Each general symptom affects a person’s ability to live his or her life because if a person lives in a constant state of nervousness, then he or she might not be as willing to go out into the world and participate in day-to-day activities. This state of nervousness could also hinder a person’s ability to sleep because they might be nervous about what could happen while he or she is sleeping. Again, a person could have trouble concentrating because of an intense focus on all things in the world that could be harmful thus furthering the state of nervousness.

Ultimately, while there are many downsides to anxiety, small doses of anxiety are still beneficial to our health. Living with a small amount of anxiety in our lives helps us to remain out of harm’s way. However, if you suffer from extensive amounts of anxiety, then it might be time to discuss your anxiety with a doctor because your anxiety might be harmful to your health.
Pietrangelo, Ann. “Recognizing Anxiety: Symptoms, Signs, and Risk Factors.” Healthline. N.p., 24 Sept. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.

Posted in: Health