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From Anxiety to Anxiety Disorder

Updated: Jun 20, 2023

Sweaty palms, feeling nauseous, heart rate picking up, heart beating faster than normal, butterflies in your stomach – and not the good kind. We have all been there at some point, the experience of our body reacting to stress, or a situation that seems scary and beyond our control.


Defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome,[1] anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress and is typically caused by apprehension of what’s about to come or a situation we find ourselves in. For instance, going for a job interview, sitting for an exam, giving a presentation or public speaking, meeting new people, or being in new situations. Occurrences in our life can trigger this natural reaction.

When then does anxiety cross the threshold from being a natural reaction to stressful situations into the realm of anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that can cause panic attacks and extreme physical symptoms, such as chest pain. Anxiety disorders are incredibly common and can make simple tasks seem monumental.

An anxiety disorder goes beyond the regular nervousness and slight fear you might feel from time to time, and interferes with your ability to function. If your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for a prolonged period, and are uncontrollable, you may have an anxiety disorder. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, they affect an estimated 40 million people in the United States.

What causes anxiety disorders?

There is not a clear-cut candidate for - or path towards- anxiety disorder. The causes of anxiety disorders can be complicated and can be the result of several factors, including genetics and environmental factors. Stressful or traumatic events can also cause anxiety disorders. What is most important to remember is that it can be treated and controlled. Having an anxiety disorder does not make you less than.

Managing and Living With anxiety disorders

Several coping strategies can be leveraged in managing anxiety. Some coping strategies include: practicing self-care, meditation, adequate sleep, learning to control your thoughts, having a support system, and knowing when to ask for help.

Treating Anxiety Disorder

The good news is there is help for those who struggle with managing anxiety. Therapy and counseling can help you change your relationship with its symptoms. At RAI Counseling, compassionate, supportive and interpersonal techniques are used in treating anxiety disorders. We provide support to help people understand the nature of anxiety itself, be less afraid of situations that trigger anxiety, and help people make choices independent of the presence of anxiety.


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