There are many instances wherein a person could feel completely overwhelmed and helpless, particularly when they are gripped by an intense emotion that could make them shake, tremble, or even freeze on the spot. Some call it being extremely nervous, others say that they are having an anxiety attack, but which is it really? There is a need to define nervousness vs anxiety so as to better understand which of the two intense sensations is being experienced. Anxiety and addiction are often correlated, could nervousness also have a connection with addiction?
Table of Contents
- What Does it Mean to be Anxious?
- What Does it Mean to be Nervous?
- How Could Anxiety Be Differentiated from Nervousness?
- Is Mild Anxiety Different from an Anxiety Disorder?
- What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
- What Treatment is Used for Anxiety Disorders?
- Let Live Free Recovery Show you How Best to Deal with Anxiety
What Does it Mean to be Anxious?
Most would attribute feeling anxious to an incident where a person is waiting for something or someone, and the waiting is gradually making them lose their composure and ability to think rationally. The truth of the matter is that what is being felt is a symptom of anxiety, and there are quite a few differences between being anxious as a symptom of anxiety and being nervous.
Anxiety is characterized by a persistent feeling of dread, fear, extreme uneasiness, or intense restlessness. In many cases, anxiety is next to impossible to control, and efforts to calm someone suffering from anxiety could prove to be futile. It is not uncommon for people who suffer from chronic anxiety to avoid people, places, or situations that they attribute to the onset of an anxiety attack. This avoidance is brought on by an intense urge to avoid the things that the mind has subconsciously attributed to anxiety.
Anxiety is also differentiated from simply being nervous by the wide range of symptoms that accompany the severe sense of dread that washes over a person suffering from an anxiety attack. These could include:
- Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)
- Elevated heart rate
- Stomach pain/cramps
- Varying degrees of nausea
- Feelings fatigued
- Uncontrollable trembling or shaking
- Muscle tension
- Muscle pain
In some cases, these symptoms aggravate the situation even more, driving the person to greater anxiety. It is not uncommon for people to break down when an anxiety attack becomes intense enough.
What Does it Mean to be Nervous?
As opposed to anxiety, being nervous is actually a physical response to a situation that the mind and body interpret as something that requires the natural fight-or-flight response. The stressful situation triggers a change in the body, preparing it to respond to a perceived challenge or to escape the situation should running away become the best option.
People who are nervous often mistake the feelings they experience as an anxiety attack, as they could feel any or all of these things:
- Dry mouth
- Dry throat
- Sudden profuse sweating
- Slight dizziness
- Racing thoughts
- Feelings of self-doubt
- Feeling a sense that a decision needs to be made as soon as possible
- Inexplicable feeling of urgency
Unlike an anxiety attack, however, feelings of nervousness soon wear off after some time. The most common times when nervousness becomes quite notable in intensity are during exams, when a presentation needs to be given, just before a performance, before an interview, or when waiting for important results to come out. Feelings of nervousness are typically not strong enough to disrupt a person’s resolve or presence of mind and do not linger once the situation that caused it is over.
If the feelings of nervousness persist even after the situation that brought it is over, it may actually be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
How Could Anxiety Be Differentiated from Nervousness?
In many instances, it is important to determine if the feeling being experienced is simply nervousness or if it is already a sign of a more complex anxiety issue, particularly if it is already chronic. This is because anxiety concerns have a tendency to worsen over time, particularly if it is left unaddressed. Should there be doubts that it might already be a case of anxiety, it would be best to consult with a mental health professional to check if it is and learn what treatment options would be best suited for it.
Some of the more pronounced differences between nervousness and anxiety include:
Nervousness typically ends once the stressful situation is over, or in some cases, it might persist for a short while and soon fade out. A feeling of nervousness that stays is not normal in any scenario. Anxiety, on the other hand, will not go away as easily. In most cases of anxiety, in fact, the person suffers prolonged bouts of doubt, fear, paranoia, depression, severe uneasiness, and all the other hallmarks of anxiety.
Being nervous will typically not prevent a person from doing what needs to be done. In some cases, being all nervous could actually help with whatever needs to be done, as the adrenaline rush keeps the person alert, focused, and ready. Anxiety, on the other hand, could be so bad that the person might become unable to do the most basic of things, such as get up and walk. Anxiety attacks could be so bad that many often break down, find themselves on the floor, and even require assistance just to be able to compose themselves.
In most cases, a person will know what they are nervous about. They could be nervous about a test, such as an exam in school, a driving test, meeting someone for the first time, or a presentation before a crowd that needs to be delivered. Whatever the case might be, a person would always know the source of the nervousness. Anxiety, however, could be so vague that the emotional effects could stay with the person for an entire day or even longer, and they still would not know what is causing it. This is what makes anxiety so devastating to a person, the feeling that something is profoundly wrong, and yet still be left completely in the dark as to what it might be.
Ability to Manage
Public speakers are masters of conquering their feelings of nervousness. Some of them even give out tips on how another person might be able to do public speaking or a presentation without giving in to the debilitating effects of being nervous. This proves that nervousness is manageable and the person who has it could do something to mitigate the trouble. When a person suffers from anxiety, however, depending on the type that they have, managing an anxiety attack could be immensely difficult and sometimes even next to impossible. So far, only therapy and medication have really helped people with their anxiety.
Is Mild Anxiety Different from an Anxiety Disorder?
For all intents and purposes, an episode of mild anxiety is attributed to the things that make a person nervous. It is not uncommon for people in the grip of nervousness to exclaim that they are having an anxiety attack. Once the stressful situation is over and the person stops feeling what they attribute to anxiety, then it is simply a case of being severely nervous.
An anxiety disorder, however, is something that will not go away even if the stressful event is over. In fact, most cases of anxiety disorders stay with the person for a lifetime and are only managed through therapy or medication, or a combination of both. This is why people who suffer from chronic bouts of depression, fear, severe uneasiness, and panic are advised to seek the help of a mental health professional to determine what the cause of their condition might be, and what steps need to be taken to manage it.
What are the Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety is a disorder that primarily affects the mind, and while the mind suffers, the body reflects it in various ways. As such, there could be a myriad of ways that anxiety could affect a person, and for purposes of classifying the different forms of anxiety so that it could be treated, five major types have been established that most of the specific symptoms fall into.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Otherwise known as GAD, this is a disorder that is characterized by inexplicable and unprovoked chronic anxiety and exaggerated worry and tension. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) released data that most recently, at least 6.8 million Americans, or 3.1% of the US population, suffer from GAD. Of this figure, only 43.2% are actually receiving treatment for it, meaning there is still a massive number of Americans who suffer from this condition on a daily basis and continue to do so without help or support from a mental health professional.
Panic disorder is characterized by unpredictable, repeated, and persistent episodes of intense fear. These intense episodes of fear are typically accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal distress. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists at least 6 million American adults as having panic disorder, with women being twice as likely to suffer from it than men.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Also known as social phobia, social anxiety disorder is a disorder characterized by overwhelming and excessive self-consciousness when exposed to everyday social situations. Depending on the specific severity experienced by the person who has it, social phobia could be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of speaking in public settings, eating or drinking with a crowd of people, or when approached by strangers. In its more severe form, the person may have an anxiety attack anytime they are around any number of people in any scenario. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reveals that at least 15 million American adults, or roughly 7.1% of the US population, are afflicted with a social anxiety disorder.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Other than depression, most people became familiar with the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) quite early on because of its prevalence among war veterans or people who have seen great conflict and violence, such as the members of the police force. PTSD, however, is not limited to people who are into peacekeeping or are in the armed forces, as it is also a condition developed by people who experienced domestic violence and abuse.
This condition tends to be deep-seated and might not immediately surface after the incident but instead, come out when triggered sometime later. PTSD is reported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) to affect some 7.7 million Americans, and this figure necessarily includes women and underage children.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition that is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts which become obsessions or repetitive behaviors which become compulsions, or even both. In modern culture, this disorder has become popularized by being featured in a number of contemporary movies and TV shows, often depicting people with OCD as whimsical at times because of their unusual behavior relevant to their obsessions or compulsions.
To someone afflicted with the condition, however, it is the farthest thing from amusing as they admit they are powerless to fight the urge to give in to their obsessions and compulsions. It is not uncommon for these obsessions and compulsions to lead to felonies or even outright crimes. the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reveals at least 2.5 million Americans suffer from OCD, where the average onset age could be as early as between 14 to 19 of age.
What Treatment is Used for Anxiety Disorders?
As anxiety disorders are centered in a person’s mind, the main treatments used to help in dealing with the various disorders associated with anxiety are psychotherapy and medication. There are psychotherapy approaches like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that help in identifying the triggers that lead to the onset of a related anxiety attack, although there has been no conclusive treatment that has successfully eliminated the disorder. At best, available treatments help in either avoidance of triggering an anxiety attack, or in mitigating the damaging effects once an anxiety attack takes hold.
Let Live Free Recovery Show you How Best to Deal with Anxiety
There is no magic cure for anxiety. This is because experts in the field still have to establish why the things that trigger anxiety have such a profound effect on the mind. This is why we here at Live Free Recovery do our best to help people through the worst of it, as this is the time when they need support the most. Quality of life is still possible even if you have an anxiety disorder, and we can show you how to do it. Talk to us now.
What are 3 causes of speech anxiety?
Speech anxiety, also known as glossophobia, is an intense fear of public speaking. It’s quite common and can be caused by various factors. Here are three potential causes:
- Fear of Negative Evaluation: This is one of the most common causes of speech anxiety. People often fear that they will be judged negatively by their audience, which can lead to feelings of nervousness and anxiety. This fear can be exacerbated if the speaker has had past experiences of negative feedback or criticism in relation to their public speaking abilities.
- Lack of Experience: Inexperience with public speaking can be a major cause of speech anxiety. The unfamiliarity with speaking in front of a large audience, or the uncertainty about how to structure a speech and deliver it effectively, can increase feelings of anxiety. Regular practice can help reduce this type of anxiety.
- Perfectionism: Some people who experience speech anxiety are perfectionists. They may have an unrealistic expectation that every speech they give must be flawless. This can create a lot of pressure and cause anxiety. It’s important to understand that everyone makes mistakes and that they are a normal part of learning and improving.
Of course, these are just a few potential causes of speech anxiety. Factors such as personality traits, genetic predispositions, and cultural contexts can also play a role in the development of this condition. It’s also worth noting that individuals may experience a combination of different causes.
How to get rid of anxiety forever?
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger and is often referred to as the ‘flight or fight’ response. However, when it becomes a chronic issue, it can interfere with daily life and overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that anyone can completely eliminate anxiety forever. Everyone will experience some form of anxiety at various points in their lives, especially during stressful events.
However, there are many strategies and approaches that can help you manage and reduce chronic anxiety. Here are a few:
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This type of therapy helps you understand how your thoughts affect your emotions and behavior. It can provide you with tools to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive and realistic ones.
- Mindfulness and Meditation: Regular practice of mindfulness and meditation can help you stay in the present moment and reduce anxiety. It’s been shown to help lower stress levels, improve focus, and promote relaxation.
- Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known as ‘feel good’ hormones. It can also act as a natural distraction from anxious thoughts.
- Healthy Diet and Sleep: Eating a balanced diet and ensuring you get enough sleep can also contribute to your overall mental wellbeing. A lack of sleep or poor diet can exacerbate feelings of anxiety.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to manage anxiety. This should always be discussed with a healthcare professional.
- Support Network: Having a strong support network of friends and family can help you manage your anxiety. Being able to talk openly about your feelings can provide a great sense of relief.
Remember, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you’re struggling with anxiety. They can provide you with a proper diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment based on your individual circumstances.
How does anxiety affect the brain?
Anxiety can have significant effects on the brain, influencing both its structure and function. Here are some of the ways in which anxiety impacts the brain:
- Alteration of Brain Structure: Studies using brain imaging techniques have found that chronic anxiety can lead to changes in the size and connectivity of certain areas of the brain. For instance, the amygdala, a part of the brain involved in processing emotions and fear responses, is often found to be larger in people with chronic anxiety disorders. There may also be alterations in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision making and social behaviors.
- Neurotransmitter Imbalances: Anxiety can also affect the balance of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain. In particular, it can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which play key roles in mood regulation, reward processing, and inhibition of nerve signals, respectively. Imbalances in these neurotransmitters can result in heightened anxiety and other mood disorders.
- Activation of the Stress Response: Anxiety triggers the body’s stress response, leading to a cascade of effects in the brain and body. One key aspect of this is the release of cortisol, a stress hormone. Chronic anxiety means that this response is activated frequently and for extended periods. Over time, high levels of cortisol can cause damage to the brain, impairing functions like memory and learning.
- Impaired Cognitive Functions: Prolonged periods of anxiety can impact cognitive functions like attention, memory, and decision-making. High levels of anxiety can make it difficult for individuals to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions.
- Impacts on Sleep: Anxiety can lead to problems with sleep, including insomnia. Poor or disrupted sleep can have further detrimental effects on brain health and function, including impaired memory, mood changes, and reduced cognitive abilities.
It’s important to note that while anxiety can have these effects, these changes aren’t necessarily permanent. With appropriate treatment and management strategies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, stress management techniques, and lifestyle changes, it’s possible to reduce anxiety and potentially reverse some of its effects on the brain.
Published on: 2023-01-26
Updated on: 2023-07-27