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What Is ANXIETY? FAQs Answered by a JCAC Counselor

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion of anticipation, dread, and uneasiness. This feeling can be quite normal in stressful situations like public speaking or trying something for the first time. Anxiety is characterized as a disorder when symptoms are chronic and interfere with daily functioning. Anxiety has both cognitive and physiological symptoms, which may coexist simultaneously. The cognitive symptoms include difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, uncontrollable thoughts, irrational fears etc. Physiological symptoms include-- rapid breathing, perspiration, increased heart rate, muscle tension, and fatigue/weakness etc. It is also important to remember, anxiety is individualized and might not always mirror certain symptoms and characteristics.

What are differences between children and adults with anxiety?

The expression of anxiety largely remains consistent across the lifespan. One major difference is the content of worries. Children and adolescents worry more about performance (school/sports), catastrophic events, and punctuality. Anxiety in adults might manifest through worry of household affairs, health, finances, job, and overall wellbeing of their family. When generalized anxiety disorder is diagnosed in children, it is recommended to be evaluated for other possible mental disorders.

What are possible consequences of anxiety?

Worrying soaks up a lot of time and energy, leaving individuals feeling fatigued, irritable, and on edge. Anxiety delays an individual’s ability to function with ease and efficiency. For example, a child may experience delay completing an assignment due to the worry of performance. Often times, the delay is labeled as defiance, but excessive worry is not a choice and is difficult to manage. The intensity of symptoms can pose a challenge in meeting basic life needs. For example, sleep disturbances are often seen in anxiety disorders. Individual’s inability to meet basic level needs may encourage mental and physiological issues to occur.

About Alice:

Alice has a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health from Northwestern University. She is passionate about working with children, adolescents, and young adults, suffering from anxiety. She enjoys going deep with clients to gain a holistic view of an individual’s lived experience. Alice enjoys helping clients achieve wellness through exploration of goals, acquisition of positive coping, and understanding the influence of childhood events on current functioning.