Did you know that Anxiety Disorder is very common today and that it affects about 20 to 30 million people? What could possibly be the cause of this? Well it comes down to people being disconnected, having too much debt and are living a fast pace life. So what is the difference between fear, worry and anxiety?
Let’s start with fear. Well fear is a natural and necessary alarm system that is triggered whenever we feel threatened. This God given emotion ignites a response to a real or perceived danger we might face. You have to understand that fear is perfectly normal because it can lead us to protective behavior. We fear over imagined possible outcomes. Just think about it there are many things that we fear. Some of the most common ones are losing a child or spouse, your job, health, being humiliated in public, being rejected or dying. Some have fear phobias like being afraid of heights, tight places or the dark.
Worry is the second one. Worry is not considered an emotion but a mental activity that causes anxiety. This kind of thinking is unhealthy and an unreasonable exercise that attempts to solve a situation that is beyond our control. Instead of praying about it or just letting it go we tend to worry about how to control the problem. This is where we imaging all sorts of horrible results if the problem isn’t solved right away. We have the tendency to think that if we worry long enough about it the problem it will just disappear and solve itself.
Third, Anxiety keeps us from relaxing and resting. This can be very pervasive. It’s a long term inner feeling of nervousness, unrest and uneasiness. The symptoms can include a tense feeling, rapid heart beat, dry mouth and increase of blood pressure, jumpiness, feeling faint, excessive sweating, feeling clammy and anticipation of trouble. An anxiety disorder can be a sudden and unexplained uneasiness that may last for several hours. Some times it can be all the time. Generalized Anxiety is a pervasive form of chronic tension that manifests itself in many different situations. Obsessive Compulsion Disorder or OCD as we know it, is a fear hidden behind a variety of obsessions, such as repetitive constantly washing your hands. This is an attempt to manage anxious thoughts and feelings. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a result of being victimized or witnessing a traumatic event. This can include physical and sexual abuse, natural disasters, accidents and more. PTSD can be relived through recurring dreams, visions and memories. A Panic Attack is the sudden onset of panic that is so overwhelming that you become paralyzed with the flight or fight response. Symptoms can include a racing heart, sweating, dizziness, ringing ears, choking and vertigo. Sometimes the attack is so strong that the person thinks they are having a heart attack. With any of these, if the symptoms last longer than six months professional help is needed.
Jesus says in John 14 verse 1 “Let not your heart be troubled.” Just know that anxiety has been around for a very long time. In Matthew 6:25-34 the Sermon on the Mount Jesus calls attention to the destructiveness of anxiety about the future. He clearly states that worry is futile, pointless and unable to solve the problem. So in other words worry is not an emotion but a pattern of thinking that takes hold of us when we try to live independent of God. When I worry and get anxious about something I tend to lose sleep and make myself sick with worry. I have learned over the years that when it is something I can’t control I just have to let it go. It takes time and will power but it can be done. I can honestly tell you that I feel much better now.
Unless fear, worry and anxiety are honestly faced and worked through, people can end up in a pattern of avoidance, organizing their lives around people and situations they must avoid. So learn to let it go. It will take time and practice but it can be done.
Paula W. Thomas, BMHC