Sometimes it can be hard to work out whether we’re experiencing nervousness or anxiety. Nervousness is a human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. Anxiety can be a diagnosable medical condition. We often turn to Google in a bid to work out what we’re living with, but that can leave us feeling even more confused because there can be so many different pieces of information flying about and because we often experience nervousness as part of anxiety.
How Are They Defined?
The Macmillan dictionary defines feeling nervous as ‘feeling excited, worried, or slightly afraid’. This is often a result of a specific trigger.
Anxiety causes us to feel worried about a whole range of issues. It’s a long-term condition and those of us living with anxiety usually feel anxious most days and struggle to remember the last time we felt totally relaxed.
Nervousness is often a response to something specific. It can be horrible to experience, and we do deserve support with it. But it does usually fade.
Anxiety is an illness. It can come in waves, and there will be times when we feel more anxious than others, but it tends to be a far longer-lasting feeling than nervousness. It can respond to specific events – for example, if we have social anxiety, then our feelings of anxiety are likely to rise when we’re involved in a social event. However, anxiety doesn’t have to be in response to a specific event. It can creep up on us with almost no warning at all.
Length Of Time
One of the biggest differences between nervousness and anxiety is the length of time that we experience them. With anxiety, our feelings and symptoms are usually fairly constant. We rarely have much let-up from them.
Nervousness is usually more of a short-term feeling. It isn’t usually constant. There are times when it can last for a while, for example, in the middle of an inspection at work, we could feel nervous for the length of the inspection. But it isn’t usually a constant feeling.
Anxiety can become so unbearable that it can lead to some very dark and difficult thoughts. It can get to the point where we turn to self-harm, or other self-damaging behaviours, such as drinking or smoking too much, in order to cope with it. In fact, it can get to the point where it becomes so unbearable that we could start to think that suicide is the only way to escape it. These thoughts can become persistent and all-consuming.
Interfering With Life
When we’re nervous, we might have some trepidation about doing certain things, but we are normally able to do these things despite how we feel.
If we are living with anxiety, it often interferes with our day-to-day lives. Sometimes we’re able to do things that we’re particularly anxious about, despite how we feel. However, often our lives are limited in some way because there are many things that we simply don’t feel able to do due to how anxiety can cause us to feel both mentally and physically.
When To Get Help
If we’re feeling nervous about things, it can be really helpful to speak to friends and family about it.
Anxiety can be more complicated, and if we’re worried that we’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety, and they’re interfering with our daily life, and causing us distress, then it’s worth booking a GP appointment to discuss our symptoms. We could find that our symptoms pass, but it’s worth getting a second opinion on whether we could do with some more help and support.
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