The Anxious Patient
Anxiety is a common, normal and useful response to life’s challenges and dangers, and is therefore part of the human experience. It is usually experienced as a vague sense of uneasiness. When we are confronted with a danger, anxiety causes us to get out of the way of the danger. When we are faced with a test, either in an educational setting, or a test of our skills in the workplace, anxiety may be the driving force behind our preparation to meet this challenge; without the anxiety we might not prepare and therefore might fail the test! Anxiety can become overwhelming and cause problems with our ability to function. When this happens in a transient situation, we are often able to deal with the situation and then move on to other issues in our lives. When the feeling of being overwhelmed continues for more than a brief period of time, it can become problematic. Fear is different than anxiety. Fear is generally thought of as a response to a known, external, definite threat, while anxiety is a response to an unknown or internal threat.