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Does Everyone Have Anxiety?

Beth Pausic, Psy.D.

Reviewed by Beth Pausic, Psy.D.

Written by Rachel Sacks

Published 12/10/2022

Updated 07/06/2023

Whether it’s waking up the morning of an important appointment in a cold sweat or worrying about an upcoming job interview, most people have moments where they feel anxious.

Everyone has different mental health triggers and while it never feels great when it’s happening, occasional anxiety is just a normal part of life. 

There’s a difference, though, between a little overthinking or worrying (i.e. your car broke down, you’re nervous about a first date, you’ve got a to-do list that's a mile long –– you get the idea) and anxiety disorders, which are experienced as severe, persistent anxiety that can happen outside of normally stressful situations. 

You may be wondering, how much anxiety is too much anxiety? Do I have an anxiety disorder? At what point should I consider getting professional help? Below, we’ve unpacked the answers to these questions, including self-help strategies and effective treatments for managing your anxiety.

To determine if you have anxiety, it’s helpful first to understand the difference between anxiety and nervousness. They’re closely related, yet different –– kind of like cousins. 

Anxiety vs. Nervousness

It’s totally natural to feel anxious or worried in our daily lives. When you have anxious thoughts, it might cause physical symptoms like:

  • Sweating

  • Restlessness

  • Muscle tension

  • Increased heart rate

Anxiety is a reaction to stress, which comes from emotional or physical tension to everyday pressure like work or relationships. Stress can even be a good thing because it releases hormones to activate our fight-or-flight response. 

This is especially helpful in situations where you need to focus or get an extra boost of energy –– like when you’re running from the security line to your gate to make your flight in time because you just had to suffer through the 15 minutes at the airport Starbucks because like, there’s no way you’re getting on this plane without some coffee. 

… Yes, we’ve been there, too.

A certain amount of anxiety is normal.  But there’s the other side of the spectrum in which anxiety feels much more intense, creating the risk of interfering with your daily life. 

This could mean that you have an anxiety disorder. 

Types of Anxiety Disorders

When it comes to anxiety disorders, there is no “one size fits all.” There are many different types of anxiety disorders, each with its unique symptoms, which can include: 

  • Difficulty concentrating on anything other than current worries or concerns

  • Feelings of nervousness and restlessness

  • Heart palpitations

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Feelings of physical weakness and/or tiredness

  • Stomachaches, cramps, diarrhea and/or constipation

  • Hyperventilation (rapid breathing)

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

The above may seem similar to everyday anxiety symptoms, but symptoms of anxiety disorders tend to be more intense and last longer. Some of the more common anxiety disorders are:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder may seem like everyday anxiety at first, but is characterized by a persistent feeling of dread and worry that interferes with your daily functioning and can last for months or even years.

  • Social anxiety disorder. This anxiety disorder is characterized by a strong fear or anxiety of being watched or judged negatively while in social situations.

  • Panic disorder. Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where someone experiences panic attacks — frequent and sudden feelings of fear or losing control, even when no danger is around. People with panic disorder may experience symptoms like a pounding heart, sweating, chest pain or trembling.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). OCD is a disorder that causes recurring thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive or repetitive behaviors. People with OCD may repeatedly check certain things, wash their hands often or perform “rituals” to feel relief from obsessive thoughts.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD happens after someone has experienced a traumatic event. We talk about this in more depth in our guide, Is it Anxiety or PTSD?.

Someone, for example, might feel a little nervous before boarding an international flight. But someone with a generalized anxiety disorder or specific phobia –– no matter how many frequent flier miles they’ve accrued –– may feel an intense fear of something going wrong or the plane losing control. They might feel in danger even if they logically know they are safe. 

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting about 40 million American adults each year. That’s a lot of people. 

So, why do so many of us have anxiety, anyway? The exact reason is unclear, but research suggests that anxiety disorders derive from complex risk factors like genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. 

While it may seem like you don’t have a lot of control over your anxiety, there are proven strategies you can use to help keep it at bay, whether you have a formal disorder diagnosis or not. 

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Even though anxiety disorders are highly treatable, less than 40 percent of people receive treatment. Not only might people not be aware they have a disorder to begin with, but shame and stigma can make people feel self-conscious about speaking out.

Anxiety can also just feel overwhelming, making you want to avoid it altogether. After all, if you feel panicked every time you have to drive over a bridge to get to your house, chances are, you’re going to avoid that bridge as much as humanly possible, even if that means adding an extra 30 minutes to your commute. 

Fortunately, there are some metaphorical roads –– although not shortcuts –– you can take to make things easier when it comes to facing your anxiety. Like your handy GPS, the following treatment options can help get you to where you want to go with more ease: 

  • Therapy

  • Lifestyle changes

  • Medication 

Let’s take a closer look at how these treatments work. 

Therapy

Therapy is an extremely effective tool for treating anxiety disorders and normal anxiety. A whopping 75 percent of people who enter therapy benefit from their treatment, according to the American Psychiatric Association. 

Opening up to anyone — be it a friend, loved one or someone else — is always a great idea, but specifically working with a mental health professional allows you to discuss your triggers, symptoms and ultimately work through what’s on your mind through an expert lens.  

It further allows you to develop a personalized plan that works best for you. One way to approach this is through online therapy, which enables you to have private sessions with a professional from the comfort of your home (or anywhere, really) that’s convenient for you. 

Depending on what type of anxiety disorder you have, your healthcare provider might recommend different kinds of therapy ranging from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to exposure therapy. Because anxiety looks different to everyone, so does treatment. What’s important is finding a method that works best for you. 

Lifestyle changes

There is no magic wand for making your anxious feeling instantly disappear, but you can make changes to minimize their impact on your life. 

Exercise is a fantastic way to reduce stress and anxiety while also producing physical benefits. Another way to soothe your symptoms is by practicing mindfulness. This can look like journaling, meditation or practicing breathing techniques

Another thing to keep in mind is what you’re putting into your body as certain substances, like alcohol and drugs, can worsen your anxiety. Caffeine can also fire up your nerves, so take stock of your coffee intake and consider cutting back on your daily espressos if need be. 

Medication

Sometimes, therapy and lifestyle changes simply aren’t enough to treat your anxiety disorder –– and that’s perfectly okay. With the help of a healthcare professional, you can discuss what medication options are best for you based on your symptoms, medical conditions and other factors. 

Most medications used for anxiety are:

Even if you think you check most of the boxes regarding an anxiety disorder, there are risks in attempting to diagnose yourself. Sure, there are online self-tests and articles that list out symptoms, but using this information to diagnose yourself is never a good idea. 

One of the risks of trying to diagnose yourself is that you might see yourself suffering from symptoms that don’t actually affect you. Many anxiety disorders share overlapping symptoms, which may cause you to accidentally confuse them.

For instance, many symptoms of anxiety are also shared with major depression, which impacts millions of American adults each year. 

To that point, you also run the risk of potentially missing a different mood or personality disorder that could be different from the one you think you have. The best way to avoid this –– and to prevent additional anxiety from brewing –– is to turn to the professionals. 

With the help of private online therapy and psychiatry, you can access professional help from wherever is most convenient for you. Of course, you can always meet with a mental health professional in person by researching providers in your area to schedule an appointment.

You can even find doctors who specialize in specific types of anxiety like OCD or PTSD. 

Lastly, it’s never a bad idea to connect with your primary care provider, who will already be aware of your medical history. Based on your symptoms, they can make a medical diagnosis and help develop a treatment plan, which may include medication, counseling and/or life style change. 

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The short answer? Yes. Everyone has moments where they feel anxious because of stressful situations. Does that mean you have an anxiety order? Not necessarily. 

To recap: 

  • Normal anxiety vs anxiety disorders. There is still discomfort (sweating, tension, overthinking, etc.) associated with everyday anxiety, but anxiety disorders are more severe, conjuring constant feelings of anxiety and worry. They can even be debilitating, preventing you from enjoying everyday life. 

  • There are many kinds of anxiety disorders and they share similar symptoms. While conducting your own research is great for learning information, the most important way to get help is to seek out a medical professional who can provide expert guidance. 

  • Anxiety is very treatable. There are ways to manage your anxiety, from online therapy to lifestyle changes. And if necessary, there’s always medication treatment to help as well. 


Having anxiety or an anxiety disorder can be overwhelming but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. With the right resources and mental health services (Hers' platform is a great place to start), you can get on track to becoming the healthiest version of yourself.

19 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Beth Pausic, Psy.D.

Dr. Beth Pausic is a clinical psychologist and oversees the therapy platform at Hims & Hers. 

Prior to Hims & Hers, Beth worked in senior roles at several behavioral healthcare startups focused on the digital delivery of emotional support and treatment through both conventional and innovative approaches. 

Her experience prior to working in telebehavioral health includes over 15 years as a Clinical Administrator and provider in diverse clinical settings. In her clinical work, she primarily focused on anxiety, depression and relationships. 

Dr. Pausic received her doctorate from George Washington University. You can find Beth on Linkedin for more information.


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