Understanding the difference between anxiety and worrying

Being someone who has Generalized Anxiety Disorder, people occasionally ask me what the difference is between anxiety itself and worrying. I’m not a doctor, nor am I a medical professional, so these sorts of inquiries make me a little uncomfortable. But, I do like to tell people, when they ask, that a major distinguishing factor that separates normal worrying from anxiety is how often the emotion occurs.

Worrying is something all of experience from time to time, with some of us encountering it a little more often that others. It typically presents itself when warranted, for example, if we’re faced with a daunting or intimidating scenario, and in time, the feelings of unease pass.

Feelings of unease associated with anxiety tend to not pass as easily, and rather stay with us for an extended period of time. With worry, we’re still able to realistically look at a situation and decide whether or not our feelings are necessary, depending on the situation, and eventually put them behind us.

An example of the difference between anxiety and worry could be concern that we forgot to lock the door when we left our house this morning. With worry, we’re able to go back and check that we did, in fact, lock the door, and get on with our day without giving the matter anymore thought. With anxiety, however, we have difficulty refraining from giving the situation anymore thought. We go back and see that we locked the door, but the thoughts of self-doubt and contradiction manage to wheedle their way into our minds, causing us grief all day to no avail. We know the door is locked, but we go to use to stress that it somehow isn’t.

Again, I’m not a professional, and this interpretation of the way to identify worry versus anxiety is my own take. If you’re wondering about yourself and your own concerns, consult with your physician.

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