Anxiety is a part of life for everyone. But how is anxiety disorder different from normal anxiety? That’s the question I had. I had to learn three important facts about anxiety. First, it’s only a disorder if the attacks last a long time – well past any event that could have triggered anxiety. Second, a disorder can lead to a phobia such as agoraphobia. Third, a disorder involves having intense attacks of anxiety.
Some anxiety is very normal. I used to get “test anxiety” in school. You may get anxious when you have to perform in public or are worried about something you have to do. The difference between this kind of anxiety and an anxiety disorder is that the anxiety in a disorder lasts long after any trigger event.
The anxiety can even occur at just the thought of doing something such as riding an elevator or driving on the freeway. So if you are feeling anxious for no apparent reason, or feel anxious long before or after a particular event, you probably have a disorder.