Is anxiety another word for fear?

“My anxiety kicked in and I had a panic attack,” Celia said.

Her companion wanted to tell Celia to just suck it up and handle things. In Old School it was called “fear,” not the politically correct “anxiety.” Fear holds you back from living, really living, your life, Phoebe thought. To her “anxiety” sounded like a definition of victimization. She wanted to tell Celia you can choose to be a victim or to not be a victim.

In Phoebe’s day, when she said she was afraid, Mom would tell her to just stop in her tracks and look fear in the face, to refuse to let fear control her. And that was what Phoebe had done then, and still did. That was why Phoebe was the strong individual she was. Did she feel afraid sometimes? Initially, yes, but then she looked at the fearsome thing and realized she didn’t have to be afraid.

But times are different now, she thought, and Celia was a younger generation. Phoebe wasn’t sure how to talk about these things. She wanted to figure out how to help Celia.

What is anxiety? It’s the normal reaction to stress. Maybe you are afraid to go to the dentist. As the appointment time comes closer you begin to fret a little. You feel apprehension and nervousness rises in the pit of your stomach. You want to cancel the appointment, but that toothache will keep you up again tonight if you don’t go to the appointment and you don’t want to feel that awful again. Common sense pushes you. The dentist takes care of the tooth and you are out of there in half an hour or less with relief. Why did you wait so long? AnxietyFear.

Anxiety disorders include PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), panic disorder and others. These are the most common mental health disorders in the country, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Researchers are actively seeking to learn the causes of anxiety disorders: genetic, environmental. At this time the experts believe the cause may be a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological and developmental factors.

“although NIMH-sponsored studies of twins and families suggest that genetics play a role in the development of some anxiety disorders, problems such as PTSD are triggered by trauma. Genetic studies may help explain why some people exposed to trauma develop PTSD and others do not,” advises NIMH.

The anxiety of the dentist visit might be easy for some than for others. In the case of anxiety disorder, the situation may last at least six months, and if it isn’t dealt with, will worsen. Often anxiety disorders co-occur with other physical or mental conditions, such as alcohol or other substance abuse which must be taken care of before the anxiety can be treated.

About 40 million Americans age 18 or older are affected by anxiety annually. Fear and uncertainty grip them in tight fists. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, talk to your family physician. That’s your first step to well-being.

Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment of substance abuse and related mental health issues. You don’t have to be afraid any more. You can get past anxiety, you can overcome your fears.

Contact FRC at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or email, The agency is funded, in part, by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.