Mar 4

How Normal is Anxiety?

It seems that everywhere we look there is a book, article, or talk show host talking about how to reduce stress and anxiety. One of the most common issues clients seek treatment for is anxiety. Even if it is not the primary issue, often it is among a laundry list of things someone would like to change. Anxiety can be very debilitating for some people and it can take on many different forms. Some people are anxious about a specific problem, such as giving a speech or flying. Other people are anxious about illnesses and still others are worried about what people think of them. Anxiety can become so debilitating that a person stops leaving their home or cannot stop counting or checking and therefore cannot hold down a job.

Although anxiety is uncomfortable and in extreme cases can cause interference in daily functioning, how realistic is it for us to hope to eliminate it altogether? Maybe even more importantly, what would happen if we did not have anxiety? What would happen if you were driving to work and you had no fear of a ticket or a car accident? What would keep you from going as fast as your car can go? Once you got to work, if you had no anxiety about money or getting laid off would you work hard? If you had no concern for what others thought about you, would you be thoughtful of their feelings and how you speak to them? What if you had no fear of illnesses? Would you eat foods that do not taste as good to you but are healthy? I bet chocolate would be the first food eaten, not just the dessert. Trans fat? No one would worry about it, right? What kind of parents would we be if there were no concern for how our children do in school or what kind of adults they turn into? As it turns out, anxiety is a healthy, natural human emotion that serves a very important role for us.

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