What is anxiety and what is the difference between anxiety and fear?
“Anxiety” and “fear” are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct emotional processes. We can think about fear as the normal and adaptive response that one feels when faced with something threatening. When this fear becomes excessive, it turns into anxiety: a dull, steady feeling of fear, worry and tension, which is not necessarily focused on a specific set of characteristics or event. Over the course of our daily lives, we all feel fear to some extent. We feel fear about terrorist attacks and accidents, about speaking in public, or even about insects. This is perfectly natural and it enables us to maintain the requisite amount of caution and responsibility. However, when these worries interfere with our routine functioning, cause us problems or consume hours of our time, the situation can be defined as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of conditions in which anxiety prevents us from living our lives in the way that we would like.
What is the connection between anxiety and trauma?
Trauma is a difficult and uncontrolled event, such as a car accident, an assault or a disease, which causes a strong response of fear. In the aftermath of a traumatic event, most people experience strong feelings of anxiety and tension. That is a natural reaction to a situation of tangible danger. For most people, anxiety decreases gradually and fades in the weeks and months following a traumatic event. Cases in which anxiety does not disappear and even increases can be defined as a state of post-traumatic stress disorder. Professional help should be sought in such cases, in order to treat the condition effectively.
How do I know if I have an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety disorders can develop without any connection to trauma, so it is important to recognize their symptoms. If one of the following conditions persists over a prolonged period of time, the problem can likely be defined as anxiety disorder:
1. The anxiety causes significant emotional distress.
2. The anxiety interferes with routine functioning at work, in school or in the family.
3. Preoccupation with the anxiety consumes many hours each day.
In such cases, we recommend seeking professional help.