What causes anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is deemed to be a disorder when behaving apprehensively (anxiety) and/or its sensations and symptoms interfere with a normal lifestyle.
For example, if being anxious about something stops you from doing a normal activity, this is said to be anxiety disorder. Or, if your anxiety symptoms prevent you from participating in a normal activity, this is also said to be anxiety disorder.
It’s important to keep in mind that anxiety disorder should NOT be perceived as a medical condition…even though the body can be symptomatic. Anxiety disorder simply means when anxiety and/or its stress response consequences cause a disruption to a normal lifestyle.
Anxiety disorder doesn’t mean you have a medical problem, such as a disease or illness. In other words, the term ‘anxiety disorder’ is just a name for a category used to describe people who struggle with anxiety issues. Up until mental health professionals decided to give mental illnesses medical sounding names, a struggle with anxiety disorder was called being a ‘worrywart.’
This is not to suggest that the sensations and symptoms caused by overly anxious behavior can’t cause strong, unusual, and disturbing symptoms, which can cause significant impairment. Because they can. For example, high degree anxiety, such as that caused by a panic attack, can cause profound anxiety attack symptoms. Nevertheless, anxiety sensations and symptoms are caused by overly apprehensive behavior and not by a serious mental or medical illness or disease.
Too many people fear anxiety disorder because they perceive it to be a serious mental or medical illness due to the clinical sounding diagnosis. But, again, it’s not. Anxiety disorder merely means a person’s lifestyle is being affected by overly anxious behavior and/or its resulting sensations and symptoms.
The term anxiety disorder should NOT be equated with having a serious medical or psychotic mental health condition. Nor should it be equated with having something, ‘wrong,’ deficient, subpar, or abnormally wrong with the brain or mind.
Simply, when we worry, we create the state of being anxious. When we worry too much, and so much that our worry and its consequences interfere with a normal lifestyle, we become overly stressed worrywarts. So in this regard, anxiety disorder can be equated to being an overly stressed worrywart!
Once again, anxiety and anxiety disorder are NOT biological, chemical, and/or genetic entities that we get, contract, or inherit. Anxiety and anxiety disorder are states we create when we behave apprehensively. If we want to eliminate anxiety and anxiety disorder, we need to choose less apprehensive behavior. When you change the cause (behavior), you change the result.
Yes, there are physical, psychological, and emotional consequences when we worry. But they can all be resolved by choosing healthy behavior rather than apprehensive behavior.
This leads us to our final anxiety 101 topic, Anxiety Recovery 101.
Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 2016.