When we are facing a dangerous or life threatening situation, our bodies are naturally built to enter a state of alertness. Our heart-rate increases, we start to shake, and we feel nervous or scared. In other words, we experience fear. This alertness prepares us physically in order to either fight the threat, or run away from it . This reaction is not only natural, but also helpful. For instance, if we suddenly see a car quickly speeding towards us while we are crossing the street, we immediately start to run because we fear that it will hit us. In this case, fear saves our life. On the other hand, when we become worried about an issue that will take place sometime in the future, we are experiencing anxiety. Anxiety can also be helpful. For example, if a student is anxious about an exam she/he has the following week, she/he is likely to study hard in order to prepare for it.
However, if you are experiencing extreme, irrational fear, and/or intense worry that affects your everyday life, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. To give a few examples, you may experience intense worry that you find hard to control, feel restless or on edge, become easily tired, find it difficult to concentrate, become easily irritated, suffer from tense muscles (for instance, low back pain, headaches or stomach aches), and/or have problems with sleep (for example, finding it hard to fall asleep, or waking up in the middle of the night). These would all indicate that your anxiety levels are higher than normal.
If you want to check your anxiety levels, feel free to fill out the questionnaire at the end of this page.
It is important to note that if you have experienced a period of:
And these were accompanied by at least four of the following symptoms: