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Normal Worrying & Anxiety: 5 Main Differences

We all worry sometimes. It’s a natural part of being human and can even be helpful in some situations. But what if you constantly worry about things that don’t seem like they should cause you to be stressed? What if your worries are so intense that they’re interfering with your ability to get through the day? They could be signs of something more serious, like anxiety.

What is Normal Worrying?

Normal worrying is when you have thoughts about something bad happening in the future and are afraid it will happen. This is called “anticipatory anxiety.” Normal worrying helps you deal with problems by giving you time to plan how you will handle them if they do occur.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause people to feel overly anxious or worried about things in their lives — even when there’s no reason for concern. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting more than 40 million adults in 2017 alone.

People with anxiety disorders may have had them for years, or they might just be starting with their first episode of panic attacks or other symptoms of an anxiety disorder. It’s also possible for someone to have an anxiety disorder for many years and not realize it until later on down the road when their symptoms get worse.

Anxiety Symptoms

There are several types of anxiety disorders. The most common types include:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

GAD causes excessive worrying about everyday problems for at least six months and negatively impacts your life. You may also have physical symptoms such as insomnia, muscle tension, fatigue, and irritability.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder affects how you interact with other people and makes it difficult for you to perform in public or be around others without feeling embarrassed or humiliated by your actions or appearance. The symptoms of social phobia include blushing, trembling, sweating, nausea, and having a rapid heartbeat when you’re faced with any kind of social situation.

Panic disorder

Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear or discomfort that can last from a few minutes to hours. A panic attack can cause physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. People with panic disorder have recurring panic attacks and often worry about when the next one will occur.

Normal Worrying vs. Anxiety

The difference between normal worrying and anxiety can be hard to define. Are you just being a little too anxious, or is your anxiety actually causing problems in your life?

If you have an anxiety disorder, it is more than just worrying. It’s a condition that causes extreme feelings of fear, dread, or uneasiness about everyday situations. People with anxiety tend to constantly worry about certain things and might experience panic attacks or extreme anxiety when confronted with their fears.

Here are some of the differences between normal worry and anxiety:


One of the biggest differences between normal worrying and anxiety is the duration. Normal worrying is short-lived, while anxiety lasts for days or weeks.

Normal worrying tends to come and go, while anxiety often sticks around and can get worse over time.

The difference in duration is also reflected in how you feel when you’re experiencing normal worry versus anxiety. With normal worry, you’re likely to feel tense and anxious when you start to worry. But that feeling will fade away as soon as your mind shifts its focus elsewhere. If you find yourself worrying about something constantly—even when it’s not appropriate—then it may be a sign that you’re experiencing anxiety.

Cause And Effects

Normal worrying is based on rational thought—you’re concerned about something that could happen in real life, and that concern makes sense to you. You might be worried about an upcoming test, for example. You’ve studied for it for weeks, but now the day is here, and you’re still worried that you won’t do as well as you know you can.

This kind of worry is actually helpful—it motivates us to prepare for what we think is coming. So, when it does come, we’re ready for it! It also motivates us to take action when we need to. If there’s something we need to do to prepare for our upcoming test (like studying more), then we’ll do it.

Anxiety doesn’t always make sense. Sometimes it can cause people to have false beliefs or fears. They may become convinced that something bad will happen even though there is no reason to believe this will happen at all!

And because anxiety isn’t always grounded in reality, people who suffer from it often don’t know how to cope with their symptoms. They may try to avoid situations that make them anxious, like going to a party or riding in an elevator. But this can make things worse because they never get the chance to learn that these situations aren’t dangerous after all.


Normal worrying is usually proportional to the situation at hand. It’s a bit like a car alarm that goes off when someone opens your car door, even though you’re parked in a safe place. It’s going to cause you to check all of your doors and windows, but it’s not going to keep you up at night.

When you’re worrying about something, it’s normal for your thoughts to be intense and focused on the issue at hand. In fact, that’s how worry works—you’re hyper-focused on one particular thing.

Anxiety is different. Anxiety causes people to fixate on negative outcomes—even when they know they are unlikely or impossible. This can lead them to avoid situations that they might otherwise not consider scary or threatening. It can also lead them to obsess about their fears and what could go wrong in those situations for days or weeks before actually experiencing them.

Effects On Daily Life

When you worry about something, it’s normal to feel some tension in your body and mind. You might even notice that you start to sweat or feel like you’re having trouble breathing. But these things are all temporary and will pass on their own.

Normal worrying doesn’t affect a person’s ability to function; they can do all the things they normally do.

Anxiety, on the other hand, can have a major impact on your daily life. People with anxiety often experience things like panic attacks and dizziness that make it hard for them to be around other people or go out in public without feeling embarrassed. They may also withdraw from activities they used to enjoy because they’re afraid of being judged by others or making mistakes.


Normal worry is just that: normal. Normal worrying is a common part of life and doesn’t usually require intervention. It’s when people spend a lot of time thinking about things beyond their control, and it can be stressful sometimes. But it won’t stop you from living your life or doing daily activities.

On the other hand, anxiety is a severe mental condition that requires professional treatment. If you think you’re suffering from anxiety, it’s important to visit a doctor. They can perform a physical exam and run some tests to rule out any other medical issues. They can also refer you to a mental health professional if they feel that treatment is necessary.

Treatment For Anxiety

Anxiety is a problem that nearly everyone has to deal with at some point, and it comes in many different forms. Whether you’re struggling with social anxiety or generalized anxiety disorder, there are many ways to treat this debilitating condition.

First, it’s important to identify the cause of your anxiety. Suppose you have a medical condition that causes anxiety, such as an overactive thyroid or high blood pressure. In that case, these should be treated first before you try any other methods of treatment.

However, once they’re under control, there are several ways to treat your anxiety:

Talk therapy

Talking about your feelings in a safe space can help alleviate them. A therapist will listen and guide you through the process of understanding what’s causing your anxiety and help you work through it, so it doesn’t control your life anymore.


Your doctor may prescribe medication to treat anxiety. These can help reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. They come in many forms, such as pills, patches, and inhalers.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing your thoughts about situations that trigger anxiety. It can be helpful for people who are feeling anxious and want to learn how to cope with their feelings. CBT teaches you healthy ways of thinking so that you can easily handle stressful situations.

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, normal worrying and anxiety are two sides of the same coin. They both can be fueled by the same fears and anxieties, but they manifest in different ways.

The key to distinguishing between them is understanding that normal worrying is a tool for your brain to help you solve problems—it’s just a little more intense than most people need. On the other hand, anxiety is a sign that something isn’t right in your life, and you should seek professional help if it persists.

So what can you do? If you’re experiencing normal worrying, don’t stress out about it! It’s perfectly natural to wonder if something bad might happen or someone will get mad at you. But if it’s interfering with your daily life or causing you more than occasional discomfort, talk with a trusted advisor about how to handle it next time around!