At what point does worry become anxiety?


Do you ever stay up late at night worrying about anything and everything? I hear stories about family members who stay up all night worrying about things out of their control and that causes them to not be able to sleep, have regular tension headaches and sometimes even complain about being short of breath.

At what point does worry become anxiety?

According to Natasha Bhuyan, MD, chief resident of Family Medicine at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, anxiety can be a normal reaction for someone under stress, whether it is related to work, school, dangerous situations or more. However, these feelings should not be experienced on a daily basis, lead to physical symptoms, or cause someone to stop doing things they once enjoyed.

“Individuals who face tremendous stress as work may be more vulnerable to severe anxiety that could potentially lead to a true anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder,” explained Dr. Bhuyan.

Common symptoms of anxiety disorder may include increased nervousness and worries that seem out of character for the individual, worrisome feelings that are difficult to control or stop, feeling on edge, becoming tired easily, irritability, muscle tension, an inability to concentrate, and sleep issues such as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting restful sleep.

The severity of someone’s anxiety is considered higher than normal when symptoms are experienced at least a few days a week over a period of six months or longer.

“While the stress of work may worsen a person’s natural tendency to worry, it is possible that other factors may be causing an increase in anxiety,” said Dr. Bhuyan.  “For example, certain medications, caffeine, and alcohol use can aggravate symptoms of anxiety.”

If symptoms do not improve or continue to worsen, seek help from a primary care physician or mental health professional who is trained in assisting individuals in coping with anxiety through a wide range of methods, including therapy, relaxation techniques and medication.

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