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The Difference Between Worry and Anxiety

When you’re faced with an event and you’re not sure about the outcome, it’s natural to feel worried! Giving a speech and driving at night in bad weather are common examples of situations that make people nervous. Once you start to feel more confident about the situation, the worry goes away.

Anxiety is different. It’s like a much more powerful version of worry that affects your mental and physical health, causing not only severe emotional distress, but also physical symptoms that are hard to cope with. While worry is a temporary feeling triggered by specific situations, anxiety is part of an ongoing problem. For instance, it’s normal to feel nervous when you drive at night in harsh weather, but if you avoid driving altogether because you’re afraid the weather might turn bad, you’re dealing with anxiety.

Symptoms of Anxiety: Physical and Emotional/Mental

When you’re nervous about an upcoming event, you might feel “butterflies” in your stomach when you think about it. That’s a mild feeling that doesn’t persist and doesn’t prevent you from taking part in the event.

Anxiety is different; it causes a wide range of physical and mental symptoms that tend to linger, affecting your ability to manage everyday life.

Physical Symptoms

Physical anxiety symptoms are caused by a body response called “fight-or-flight.” It evolved in ancient humans to help them escape from danger. 

During the fight-or-flight response, your adrenal glands release adrenalin. This helps supply your brain and body with more oxygen, so they’re ready to react instinctively: to fight danger or run from it. 

As a result:

  • You breathe more quickly
  • Your heart beats faster.
  • Your blood pressure rises.
  • Your digestion slows down.

Fight-or-flight helped our ancient ancestors escape danger, but these days, we rarely face the kind of physical danger they did. Still, your fight-or-flight response can kick in when your brain perceives: 

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • A threatening situation

While the fight-or-flight response is most often triggered by worry or fear, humans still feel the physical effects. Even though there’s usually no threat to your survival, your powerful imagination builds on the physical effects, turning a minor worry into a major threat.

Some physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Muscle tension or pain – This could be in your shoulders, neck, or jaw, or from clenching your fists for no reason.
  • Pounding or rapid heartbeat or heart palpitations – This can happen anytime, even when you’re not consciously feeling anxious.
  • Chronic indigestion, stomach ache, diarrhea, constipation, or other digestive system issues
  • Compulsive behaviors – For example, rubbing your fingers together, clearing your throat, chewing your lips, or picking at your skin or hair
  • Panic attacks – Racing heartbeat or heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, chills, and a feeling of losing control

Emotional/Mental Symptoms

Emotional and mental symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Persistent or intrusive thoughts about situations that make you feel anxious
  • Irrational fears or phobias that restrict where you go or what you do
  • Feeling self-conscious about making mistakes, or like people are critiquing or judging you
  • Believing you always have to be perfect
  • Persistent self-doubt
  • “What if” thoughts – You imagine negative consequences in situations that trigger anxiety.  Often, the things you imagine are very unlikely to happen.
  • Difficulty feeling relaxed or falling asleep because your mind is overactive

How Do I Know If I Need Help with Anxiety?

Worry is normal, but when worry turns into anxiety, it can have serious long-term effects, often affecting how you live your life. For instance, someone who is anxious about public speaking may avoid situations where they have to speak in public. Someone who has social anxiety may avoid all social situations—even generally happy ones.

When anxiety stops you from doing something you want or need to do, or it prevents you from having a full and balanced life, it’s time to seek help. If anxiety interferes with the way you want to live, you might benefit from an anxiety treatment plan.

Types of Anxiety

In some cases, anxiety centers on a particular thing or event. For instance, some people have health-related anxiety. They fear that minor physical symptoms are signs of serious illness. Others develop social anxiety, which causes them to feel anxious in a wide range of social situations, like parties. They often avoid social events altogether.

Some people feel anxious about many different things, on an ongoing basis. This is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). People with GAD tend to believe that disaster is just around the corner. The level of anxiety they experience means they often have difficulty just getting through the day.

How Does Depression Fit In?

Many people with depression also have an anxiety disorder, but depression and anxiety have different patterns of emotional and behavioral changes. Anxiety causes strong feelings of fear and worry. Depression causes you to feel sad, hopeless, and disinterested in or discouraged about life.
 

 
 
Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.
— Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
 
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Recover from Anxiety with CAST

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Anxiety is a difficult problem to overcome, especially if it’s a long-standing one. At CAST, we offer full treatment plans, including inpatient treatment and outpatient programs to help people with:

  • A chronic anxiety disorder, like social anxiety or health-related anxiety
  • A generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • A panic disorder
  • Co-occurring disorder, such as anxiety disorder and substance abuse

The CAST treatment plan for anxiety and other mental health issues centers on the CAST alignment model (CAM). This unique treatment method helps people connect their mental, emotional, and spiritual selves—to empower their lives.

Intensive Outpatient Program

 For anxiety treatment, we offer an intensive outpatient program based in Los Angeles, CA that lasts at least four weeks. The treatment plan includes regular therapy sessions, lifestyle coaching, and other activities to help you work through the issues that underlie your anxiety. These insights will help you develop new, healthy strategies to cope with life’s challenges.

Custom Outpatient Care

CAST Centers also offers a custom outpatient treatment plan that offers a bit more flexibility than intensive outpatient care. If you enter this program, you’ll continue to work and live at home, if you wish. Your treatment plan is based on CAM—as is the intensive outpatient program—and can include anything the intensive outpatient plan offers to ensure all your needs are met.

Treatment Customized for Your Needs 

Whichever treatment program you choose, you’ll work with a treatment team that helps you choose therapeutic activities that work for you. This includes trained therapists who will help you explore the fears that limit your life. With therapy sessions that include proven techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy, you’ll work to overcome the issues that hold you back. And you’ll learn to manage your symptoms of anxiety and reduce the power anxiety has over you.

We encourage all our clients to continue working with us for as long as they feel they need to. For example, if you’re in our intensive outpatient program, you’re more than welcome to stay past the initial four-week period. Recovery takes time—it’s a long-term goal, not a quick fix. So we’re here to help—for as long as it takes.

Recovery Is the Best Challenge You’ll Take On

 Do you want to live your live free from the anxiety that holds you back? If you’ve lived with anxiety for a long time, it can be hard to remember what life was like without it. Just imagine waking up every morning, eager to greet the day instead of fearful about what it might bring. Imagine being willing to try new things, even though you might fail. Imagine walking through your day with confidence.

You won’t free yourself from anxiety by hoping for it to disappear. Recovery may not be easy, but it’s worth the effort. It takes hard work and a willingness to confront your own limitations. If you’re ready to work—with our support—to change the patterns of thinking that hinder you, you’re ready to make a start!

It’s all possible—and it all begins at CAST Centers. Are you ready to change your life? Contact us today.