Fort Worth Counseling and Intervention

How to Identify the Difference Between Anxiety and an Anxiety Disorder

Difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder

Most of us, at some point in life, will experience anxiety. It’s the body’s natural response to a stressor. As a normal reaction, your body moves into a state of high alert. However, when you have overwhelming feelings day after day, there may be more going on. So, how can you identify whether your feelings are normal or if there could be more going on?

Left untreated, anxiety can be exhausting. When you can’t quiet your thoughts and fears, it can be debilitating. In a world facing much unknown right now, many are stressed, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Like many, you may be struggling to feel optimistic and hopeful. You may also be experiencing sleeplessness and irritability.

In this article, we’ll identify some of the differences between normal anxiousness and an anxiety disorder.

What’s the Difference Between Anxiety Disorder and Normal Worry?
It’s common after a year like 2020 to feel anxious. For many of us, fear and worry may be replacing optimism more often than not. Here we are, only two months into 2021, and many may feel less hopeful than ever before. However, an anxiety disorder is not about the inability to feel optimistic or hopeful. It’s not about feeling extremely stressed about paying your bills or losing a loved one to COVID. Instead, it’s about being in a constant state of fight or flight mode. Likewise, it’s when excessive worries interfere with your normal ability to function. One difference between normal anxiety and a disorder is when symptoms interrupt your everyday life.

According to, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Likewise, they affect 40 million adults in the United States. So, you’re definitely not alone if you feel like you’re living with constant worry. Another alarming statistic is while anxiety disorders are treatable, only an estimated 36.9% receive treatment. (

Another difference is with an anxiety disorder, symptoms last more than six months. Feeling fearful or anxious is normal. In fact, it’s the body’s natural response to help us become aware that something needs our attention. Being in fight or flight mode is an internal form of protection. The problem is, it’s meant to occur occasionally, not every single day. So, suppose you’ve had the following symptoms for more than six months. In that case, you may be living with a highly treatable anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Anxiety
Symptoms of Anxiety may include the following:
– excessive worry that interrupts your ability to concentrate
– uncontrollable racing thoughts
– irritable or easily agitated
– restlessness
– trouble sleeping or interrupted sleep
– difficulty concentrating
– panic attacks
– intense or extreme fear
– a feeling of dread or impending doom
– being hypervigilant.

Physical symptoms of Anxiety may include:
– headaches
– fatigue
– rapid heart rate
– shaking
– heavy or shallow breathing
– sweating
– dizziness
– muscle tension

Living in a state of anxiousness can be exhausting. Likewise, it can interfere with your ability to feel optimistic and hopeful. So, you may wonder why telling yourself, “Everything is going to work out for my good.” and moving forward with hope isn’t working. Why can’t you calm your racing thoughts? Well, an anxiety disorder may be to blame. It doesn’t help that many are facing unthinkable hardships right now. Of course, regardless of whether you are diagnosed or not, support is available to help you during these difficult times. The good news is, there are also many treatment options available. Likewise, there are many skills that may help you combat your symptoms.

At Fort Worth Counseling and Intervention, we treat many clients with anxiety disorders. We may be able to help you acquire the tools you need to quiet your thoughts and reduce your symptoms. Visit our website or call us today to schedule an appointment.

Scroll to Top

We're Here,
Let's Talk.

Please fill out the form, so we can learn more about you and your needs.

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.