What is Too Much Stress and Anxiety?

Both stress and anxiety are normal components of our everyday lives. Stress is the result of frustration, anger, or anxiousness over a particular situation. Usually stress is caused by something we feel we have no control over. Anxiety is characterized by fear or apprehension, and in many cases, the cause may be unknown. If these feelings persist for more than six months however, a specific anxiety disorder is usually responsible. Both stress and anxiety are very personal experiences; what is stressful for one person may not be for another.

If you need help with anxiety or stress, please locate a therapist near you using our website. Professional counselors are ready to help.

Washington DC Path

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. -- Corrie Ten Boom

Reducing Stress

It is hard to collect reliable data on the actual number of people who are feeling “stressed” because as a society, we have come to accept this state of being as normal. Much attention has been given however to specific types of stress, such as job-related stress, and these numbers are quite overwhelming. In fact, a 2000 study titled Attitudes in the American Workplace, revealed that 80% of workers experience job-related stress. A further study revealed that 65% of workers admitted this stress affected their daily lives; 10% of them declaring it had major, lasting effects. Unfortunately, it is only when stress begins to engulf our daily lives that we consider outside help. And at this point, often further repercussions such as depression or anxiety disorders exist. There are however, effective treatments and tools for coping with stress and anxiety; even if the stress is simply a result of everyday events. Sometimes, all we need is an empathetic ear and the working skills to get through these tough situations.

How Do I Know if am Over Stressed or Anxious?

Often the terms stress and anxiety are used interchangeably. Many times we don’t even realize we are stressed until the compounded symptoms begin to overwhelm us. Stress and anxiety can affect anyone, even small children. While many of the symptoms of stress are also linked to anxiety, there are differences, especially when the symptoms become severe. If you are stressed, you may experience eating and sleeping problems, you may be irritable, mentally and physically tired, and often depressed. Physically, you may have headaches, stomachaches, and find you become sick more than usual. In general, you will likely feel apathetic about things that used to make you happy.

If you are experiencing severe anxiety episodes however, the symptoms can feel more intense and at times, quite scary. Many people in the midst of anxiety often experience chest pain and difficulty swallowing or catching their breath. They have a dry mouth, intense sweating and shaking, or muscle twitches. If you experience anxiety over long periods of time, you can also develop stomach problems, eating and sleep disorders, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and severe depression. According to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) over 19 million people in the United States suffer from anxiety disorders each year.

There are basically five types of clinical anxiety disorders. NIMH estimates that about 2.4 million people suffer from Panic Disorders in which they experience episodes of extreme fear that often happen without warning. These incidents are usually accompanied by intense physical symptoms such as chest pain and shortness of breath that can be caused by such things as having to fly or start a new school. Anxiety can also trigger Obsessive-Compulsive behavior where you feel a need to repeat certain behaviors in order to stop unwanted obsessive thoughts such as “I have to wash my hand twenty times or my dog will be killed”. NIMH estimates 3.3 million people suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Some people have widespread anxiety in which they experience consistent tension and worries about almost everything. NIMH says almost 4 million people experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which brings with it many physical symptoms including nausea, headaches, exhaustion, shaking, and extreme muscle tension. Extreme anxiety can also manifest as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Often this condition is associated with war and intense violence, but people can also experience PTSD over anything that causes them personal trauma such as a severe illness. PTSD causes nightmares and flashbacks, depression, and irritability and according to NIMH, it affects 5.2 million people each year.

Lastly, you can experience phobias such as the fear of flying, extreme heights, or even spiders. Many people have social phobias, which prevent them from socializing for fear of embarrassment or judgment. This type of anxiety affects 11.5 million people every year and can severely limit your life and the things you can do.

When to Get Help

While some degree of stress and anxiety is normal and even healthy in everyday life, any time your daily functioning is affected, it is time to seek outside help. With more than 19 million people feeling the affects of extreme stress and anxiety each year, it is imperative to take control of the situation as soon as you recognize the symptoms. Counseling can offer specific therapies and skills to help you ease the tension in your life and allow you to function in what is inevitably, a stressful world.

Treatment and Counseling to Address Stress & Anxiety

When individuals enter counselling to deal with the symptoms and affects of stress and anxiety, your Values-Based Counsellor begins with an understanding of how your life is uniquely impacted by these events. In some situations, this may include making life changes to your situation to reduce the level of stress you are experiencing. In other situations, we may simply be trying to manage too much in our life and reprioritizing what we take on may be the start to living a healthier, less stressful life.

While it is important to determine if a change is possible that would reduce external stressful events, for example, downsizing your home to reduce the financial obligation and burden of debt, counseling also looks at how you react and respond to the stress in your life.

Many times we are unable to make a change to our situation and are left to deal with it as best we can. It is at this point that individuals, if unable to manage in a healthy way, may internalize this loss of control over events and experience anxiety, panic attacks, or the need to maintain excessive order and control in other areas of life. Your counselor works to address these feelings, so that when you are faced with a stressful or anxiety-provoking situation, you are able to manage in a healthy way rather than becoming overwhelmed with the situation. This may include setting healthy boundaries and setting realistic expectations for these situations.

Whether it is a matter of making specific changes to your life or situation, or to your reactions and responses to these events, your Theravive counselor is committed to identifying and resolving the areas resulting in the overwhelming stress and anxiety so that your may experience greater freedom and joy in life.

If you need a therapist to help you, we have a large selection of online therapists who are professional and licensed counselors, able to help you right where you are over the phone, via email, or webcam/messenger. If you prefer face to face counseling, please use our therapist directory and find a city close to you with a therapist who can meet your needs.


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