How Is 'Normal' Anxiety Different From An 'Anxiety Disorder'?

Dr. Cathy Frank answers the question: ''Normal' Anxiety Vs. Anxiety Disorders?'

ByCathy Frank, M.D., Director, Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, Henry Ford Hospital
November 20, 2008, 4:09 PM

— -- Question: How is 'normal' anxiety different from an 'anxiety disorder'?

Answer: There is a significant difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders affect one in four adults in the United States. Normal anxiety usually occurs in reaction to some stressor. It may be a divorce, it may be an upcoming job promotion, or layoff, or fear of having an illness when you go and see your doctor.

But an anxiety disorder is different. Whereas normal anxiety is short lived, doesn't usually interfere with your life dramatically, an anxiety disorder tends to be a chronic illness that has a significant impact on your daily function and may rob you of any joy in your life. Over 40 million people in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Next: What Is The Difference Between A Panic Attack And An Anxiety Attack?

Previous: What Is Anxiety?

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events