How do you know if your anxiety is normal or pathological?


Anxiety is not only not a problem or a sign of poor mental health: it is part of the coping mechanisms that help us adjust to day-to-day challenges. That is why everyone comes to feel, at some point or another, discomfort from anxiety. That it is an annoying experience does not mean that it is a bad thing.

However, if there are certain circumstances in which biological predispositions and day-to-day experiences mix, the anxiety can become too intense or persistent. It can also appear through dysfunctional patterns, and lead to psychopathologies.

Recognizing the dividing line between simple anxiety discomfort and a psychological problem associated with anxiety is complex , but in this article we will help you to recognize it.

How do you know if your anxiety is normal or pathological?

These are several questions you should ask yourself to recognize anxiety problems that can come to be considered a sign of impaired mental health. Of course, the definitive diagnosis is made by professionals in this field, but looking at these issues will help you detect alterations in time that need to be intervened from therapy. Fortunately, anxiety disorders can be treated and overcome with the help of psychologists.

1. Have you been feeling regular distress for weeks?

The time factor is important. There are those who do not feel extremely high levels of anxiety. But if your levels are quite high or very high for a long period, this can also be a problem that deserves to be treated in therapy since it could be, for example, a Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This is characterized because the person is not even able to identify a specific reason why they feel this way .

2. Do you notice that your muscle tension frequently bothers you?

Anxiety is not only a psychological phenomenon, it also manifests itself through physical symptoms . One of the most common is muscle tension. In extreme cases, it leads to the appearance of tremors, but in more moderate forms (although not necessarily benign), the fact of being tense for many minutes makes us feel pain or discomfort in some parts of the body.

3. Are you a victim of psychological rumination often?

Psychological rumination is the tendency for thoughts or images to come to your mind that make you feel bad and that resist being "expelled" from your consciousness , returning again and again or even leading you to immerse yourself in them and give them you actively return, reflecting on all its implications. In people with anxiety problems, this phenomenon is very common.

4. Do you have trouble sleeping?

Insomnia in any of its forms is one of the most common consequences of an excessively high level of anxiety . This is closely related to psychological rumination: when we are in bed trying to fall asleep, it is common for anxiety to "draw" stressful thoughts and ideas to us. And even if we do manage to get to sleep, we are more likely to wake up several times against our will and feel like we haven't had enough rest the next day.

5. Is your mental alertness affected?

Excessive levels of anxiety, whether in specific attacks or continuously (for example, through the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder) lead to cognitive wear. That is, problems in the mental processes linked to reasoning, decision-making, memory and attention management, everything related to intellectual capacity .

These negative effects of anxiety problems mainly affect working memory, which is responsible for allowing us to have several elements in our mind at the same time and manipulate them to create new information. For example, the figures when adding without the help of paper, and the management of the attention focus (it is more difficult for us to concentrate and not give in to distractions).

Fortunately, once anxiety levels have returned to normal, these cognitive abilities also return to their normal levels.

6. Have you been suffering from digestion problems for a while?

The digestive processes are very sensitive to anxiety , and are altered by it in a matter of minutes. With this in mind, it is normal for your stomach to ache from time to time or feel gas build-up and similar problems (it could be due to something you have eaten). But if it happens to you for several days in a row or almost in a row, anxiety has many ballots of being one of its main causes.

7. Are you more irritable in your relationships with others?

People with a pathological level of anxiety feel that simply managing their emotions and thoughts overwhelm them . And so they experience frustration when they notice that others are an extra source of inconvenience or problems. That is why they tend to have less patience than usual, reacting with greater hostility in situations where it is not justified.

Are you looking for professional psychological assistance?

If you want to start a process of psychological therapy, get in touch with our team of professionals. At Despertares Psicólogos we have psychological assistance centers in the main cities of the Community of Madrid, and we also carry out online therapy by video call. We can help you overcome disorders such as anxiety disorders, depression and other types of mood disorders, trauma, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, low self-esteem, and more.

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