According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Anxiety is the most common mental illness in the US affecting around 40 million adults. This statistic was determined before the Pandemic. I would bet that the number is increasing day by day. There is a lot to worry about. So much uncertainty. Will I get sick? Will someone I know have to be hospitalized? Who will die? Will I get my job back? How am I going to pay all these bills? Will my business make it through this? And yes even…what if we run out of TP, disinfectant, or food? These worries are normal given what we are all going through. However, you may not know how to manage your worries in the best ways. And how do you know if you are struggling with a more serious issue of anxiety?
Many people say they are anxious, when they are really only worried. Worry is thought based. You worry about potential bad outcomes when you think about different situations in your life. In addition to COVID 19, there is worry about school, jobs, major decisions, and relationships. Worry in itself is not a mental health issue. Worry is normal. We all do it because we care about our well-being and the well being of those around us. However, worry can become a problem when you cannot seem to stop worrying and have trouble managing the thoughts and underlying fear. Counseling can help you identify what fears, negative beliefs, assumptions, or irrational thoughts are contributing to your worries. For example, worrying about a child getting sick would be considered a natural concern for most parents. But if that parent is so consumed with the fear of losing the child as well as their ability to care for their child AND it affects their ability to function normally, then there are some underlying issues that might need to be addressed. Another example would be someone who truly believes they are not good enough. They may worry about their performance in school or at work and also have a fear of being rejected. Counseling in both examples would likely focus on managing fears, changing negative beliefs, and working toward developing a healthier self-concept.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is not JUST thought based. There is a physical aspect to it. Fear underlies anxiety as well, but in this case it triggers the fight or flight system (your brain’s natural response to danger) and leads to physical symptoms including increased heart rate, shortness of breath, heaviness in the chest, muscle tension, sweating, and trembling or shaking. High levels of anxiety can lead to panic attacks. Prolonged anxiety can lead to a compromised immune system and chronic pain. In addition to addressing fears and beliefs, Counseling for anxiety would need to incorporate ways to calm the nervous system and manage the physical symptoms as well as determining the underlying issues triggering that fight or flight response.
So, you can think of it this way: worry is thinking about something, while anxiety is feeling it. Both have symptoms that may warrant some extra support and guidance. If you are struggling with any of these symptoms, you don’t have to go through it alone. Please use the form on this page to contact us and we will be in touch asap.