Anxiety and feeling anxious – what’s the difference?

Most of us will at some point in our lifetime go through a difficult patch – and sometimes this difficult patch is so persistent and prolonged that it begins to affect different areas of our life. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lifetime, with anxiety being the 3rd most frequent one found in adults worldwide.

Anxiety is an umbrella term that covers other mental health disorders, which are; Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Specific Phobia, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

‘Anxiety’ and ‘anxiousness’ is often used interchangeably with feeling ‘nervous’ – and although there are certain similarities in symptoms between the two, they differ in strength and persistence. Anxiety is something that is felt on an ongoing basis and is not necessarily a response to a particular experience.

As with most mental health difficulties, anxiety exists on a spectrum and can therefore be experienced by people with or without a diagnosis. Some of the most frequently experienced symptoms of anxiety come in both a physical and a psychological form, and can range from; racing heartbeat, chest tightness, trembling or shaking, tension, irritability, feeling on edge, and a constant dread that something awful may happen.

It is safe to say that most of us will experience feeling anxious at some point in our life; before an important exam, a job interview, or meeting someone for the first time. Temporary and mild anxiety is very common and a very natural response, which tends to naturally decrease over time. Both diagnosed anxiety disorder and non-clinical anxiety are associated with a diminished daily functioning. However, it is the intensity and the severity of the anxiety symptoms and how much they interfere with our daily activities that will differentiate the two. If left untreated, anxiety tends to take an unremitting route. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) tends to be the most used approach of talking therapy for anxiety – it is worth remembering that anxiety is treatable.


At the Brighton & Hove clinic, we understand that asking for help can be very difficult, and finding the right kind of therapist may be even more of a challenge. Working as a multidisciplinary team means that we offer individually tailored treatment plans that will work specifically for you and provide you with the best possible outcomes.

To find out more about our services or to make an appointment please call 0808 168 1290.