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Is it normal to have anxiety for no reason?

Is it normal to have anxiety for no reason?

June 12, 2024

Anxiety is one of the most common human experiences and is related to different elements of psychic, biological and social order. Despite being a common experience, anxiety can easily become an important condition of suffering. Likewise, it is an experience that is often confused with others (such as stress, anguish or fear), which also generate discomfort.

Ironically, the reasons why anxiety is generated; or rather, ignoring these reasons, is one of the triggering elements of anxiety. Next we will review different definitions of anxiety, and its relationship with other similar concepts, to finally offer an answer to the following question: Is it normal to have anxiety for no reason? Let's see it


  • Related article: "Types of Anxiety Disorders and their characteristics"

Anxiety, fear, stress or anguish?

Since the beginning of the twentieth century anxiety has been placed as one of the main topics of study in psychology, and related areas, such as medicine or physiology. The latter has generated the problem of accurately defining "anxiety" , and from there address it appropriately. Specifically in psychology, its different theoretical currents usually face contradictions and overlaps with those that have ended up mixing anxiety with anguish, stress, fear, fear, tension, and others.

In fact, in the own diagnostic manuals of classification of mental disorders, and in their translations, anxiety The concepts of anguish, stress or fear have been frequently mixed , through which are grouped different manifestations both psychic and physical.


From anguish to anxiety

The psychologists Sierra, Ortega and Zubeidat (2003) have made a theoretical study where they invite us to reflect on this topic, and they tell us that in some of the more classic definitions, the concept of "anguish" had been related to the predominance of physical reactions: the paralysis, the awe and the sharpness at the moment of capturing the causative phenomenon . Contrary to "anxiety", which had been defined by the predominance of psychological symptoms: the sensation of suffocation, of danger or fright; accompanied by the rush to seek effective solutions to the feeling of threat.

On this last point, the authors tell us, that Sigmund Freud had already proposed at the beginning of the 20th century the German term "Angst" to refer to physiological activation. This last concept was translated into English "Anxiety", and in Spanish it was translated doubly into "anguish" and "anxiety".


Anxiety is currently defined as an answer that generates psychological tension accompanied by a somatic correlate , which is not attributable to real dangers, but which appears as a persistent and diffuse state close to panic. It is related to future dangers, often indefinable and unpredictable (Sierra, Ortega and Zubeidat, 2003). In this sense, anxiety tends to paralyze, both due to hyperactivity and lack of reaction.

It is an experience different from fear, because fear is presented to present, defined and localized stimuli, which is an experience that has a rational explanation, and tends to activate rather than paralyze. In the same sense, anguish has been closely related to fear, because is caused by a clearly identifiable stimulus . In both cases, the person has a clear representation of the stimuli or situations that generate them.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Sympathetic nervous system: functions and travel"

From anxiety to stress

Finally we have encountered the problem of differentiating between anxiety and stress. Some authors suggest that this last concept has come to replace anxiety, both in research and interventions. Others think that stress is now the term that refers to the physiological response, and anxiety is what is related to the subjective response. The term stress is perhaps the most difficult to delimit at present, since it has recently been used almost indiscriminately by many areas of study.

In any case, those who study it tend to agree that stress is an experience related to important changes in the person's environment ; and with feelings of frustration, boredom or lack of control. It is then an adaptive process that triggers different emotions and allows us to relate to the environment, as well as face their demands. However, it is an experience that can also be generalized and that refers to the tensions that currently exist in our societies.

Anxiety without reason?

If we summarize all of the above we can see that feeling anxiety for no apparent reason is not only normal, but is a condition of the anxiety experience itself. It is a situation that they have a psychological origin and a physical correlate , so this lack can also be an objective of therapeutic work.

In this sense, and given that anxiety has recently been studied in relation to the physical correlate, there is an important part of psychology and medicine that have approached it as a multicausal phenomenon, where different triggering events can be identified. Both psychic and social and physiological, for example, from traumatic events to the frequent use of psychotropic substances .

If it is normal, is it avoidable?

As we have seen, there are experiences of malaise that are part of human beings and that can be adaptive, both physically and psychologically. Is about discomforts that manifest at the psychic and somatic levels , but that is not isolated, but in permanent connection with the demands and characteristics of the environment.

The problem is when these discomforts no longer act as adaptive or stabilizing mechanisms, but rather they appear before practically all the circumstances that surround us, including circumstances without concrete reality. This is a problem because, if the reason for the discomfort has to do with everything that is around us (even with the most daily and most intimate), it easily generates the feeling that there is no end. That is, it is generalized.

This is when it comes to an anxiety that has become cyclical, which can cause permanent or repetitive pictures of suffering , as well as affect our daily activity, our relationships and our life processes.

In short, anxiety can be a functional reaction of our body, it can keep us alert to different stimulations, whether positive or negative. But, if it becomes a very frequent experience , caused by a diffuse perception of danger in the most everyday situations, then it can generate significant suffering. However, this is a type of preventable and controllable suffering.

One of the first things that must be done to counteract it is precisely to attend to that feeling (psychological and physiological) of generalized threat, as well as to explore the apparent lack of reasons that generate it.

Bibliographic references:

  • Sierra, J. C., Ortega, V. and Zubeidat, I. (2003). Anxiety, anguish and stress: three concepts to differentiate. Magazine Mal-estar E Subjetividade, 3 (1): 10-59.

How To STOP Anxiety that Comes Out of Nowhere (June 2024).


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