Most people feel uneasy at times in their life. However, for many people the feeling goes beyond a mere case of nervousness. Anxiety can be a mystery to people who don’t battle with it. It can also be a lonely experience for people who do suffer from it.
What is the difference between nervousness and anxiety?
From what I have come to understand, the best way to explain nervousness is a temporary state of uneasiness which is caused by a reasonable situation. When the situation is over, the nervousness goes away.
Anxiety on the other hand is often irrational. You may even be able to recognize it’s irrational while you’re experiencing it. Often times, you will try reasoning with yourself, but to no avail. The feeling of dread may be a general feeling that always lingers or it could be on and off. Whatever the case is, it never truly goes away.
To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, your symptoms must be severe and often enough to be considered a disorder. The symptoms must also interfere with your daily life.
What are the symptoms of nervousness vs anxiety?
Symptoms of nervousness and anxiety are similar, if not the same in some cases. The main difference is the extent to which you experience them. Symptoms include:
– Panic, fear, dread and/or uneasiness
– Sleep problems – difficulty staying asleep or falling asleep
– Sweating, numbness, tingling, cold sensation.
– Shortness of breath
– Rapid heart beat, heart palpitations
– Dry mouth
– Dry mouth
– Muscle tension
– Upset stomach, diarrhea or IBS
– “Fight-or-flight” response. Typically, the reaction is to avoid or “run” from a situation
This is the short list of symptoms, however the long list for anxiety symptoms is nearly endless. Moreover, it can cause many other health problems and physical symptoms. Everyone has their own way of experiencing it.
An Old, Unwelcome Friend
I have dealt with anxiety for most of my life. I felt like I had a grasp on it until recently. After my last daughter was born, my anxiety came back and manifested itself differently than I was familiar with in the past.
On bad days, I feel like I am in a perpetual state of dread. I’ve had many days where I break down into tears for no reason. I go through short periods, usually a few days, where I wake up in the night and it’s difficult for me to get back to sleep. I developed IBS. Occasionally everything goes white around me and I’d have to consciously slow down and let it pass. My heart pounds so hard it feels like it could burst. Things that never bothered me before became unbearable to deal with. Most strangely, I would go home after a day of work and forget large chunks of the day. I felt like I was out of my own body or on auto-pilot.
Further to the symptoms above, I have been experiencing other issues with my health that have remained unresolved for over a year. I can’t help but wonder if my anxiety is the cause of the symptoms or if it’s caused me to develop other health problems. Contrarily, I wondered if the health problems were bringing on my anxiety.
Thankfully, since making some changes in my life, some of my symptoms have lessened or gone away. Regardless, there is still the underlying fear that they will emerge again, possibly worse than before. For now, I am grateful that things have gotten better.
You’re Not Alone
Some people mistake someone who suffers from anxiety as being a worry-wart, unnecessarily stressed out, or overly sensitive. While they do worry, stress and are sometimes sensitive, it’s not that simple. Anxiety takes such an uncontrollable hold of someone’s life. It makes things which are simple tasks for some extremely difficult for others.
When you’re in the middle of the worst of it, you literally feel like crawling into a hole and not coming out. You want to run far and fast. The thoughts going through your head are so catastrophic and unreasonable and even though you might know it, you can’t convince your mind and body of it. It feels like things will never get better.
But they do.
I felt so embarrassed by how I felt on the inside, that I hid my feelings from all but a few people close to me. Mental illness still carries a stigma. Despite the effort to raise awareness, it continues to be misunderstood.
Anxiety is a serious mental health disorder. Although it feels lonely at times, many people are dealing with it too. Most people experience it at times in their life, even if not to the extent of a true disorder.
The stigma around mental health can be a powerful deterrent from talking to someone, however it’s important to take care of your mental health the same way you would your physical health. If you think you’re dealing with an anxiety disorder, speak to a doctor or counselor. With the right help, you can manage it, or possibly resolve it completely.