The Difference in an Anxiety Disorder and an Anxious Season

Darcie Fuqua

Contributing Writer
Updated Sep 07, 2022
The Difference in an Anxiety Disorder and an Anxious Season

I can witness His presence in my nail-biting days and speak forever about all of the testimonials I've heard from women who travailed through stomach-knotting seasons—never alone.

When we read the Bible, we are aptly and repeatedly reminded to NOT worry. Yet, we see many biblical characters doing just that – worrying and doubting. King David is a prime example of someone who falls from great heights of confidence to devastating lows of insecurity, doubt, and anxious thoughts. But when we read the Psalms, we also witness David singing about and praising God regardless of his circumstances. 

I could write and write some more until many pages are filled with the biblical narratives of characters experiencing anxious seasons. But friend, I could write infinitely about the accounts of comfort, grace, and incomprehensible love our Heavenly Father extends to us in these worrisome times (and always). But one must experience God's companionship to tell about these things. I can witness His presence in my nail-biting days and speak forever about all of the testimonials I've heard from women who travailed through stomach-knotting seasons—never alone.

My favorite hymn is "The Love of God is Greater Far," written by Fredrick M. Lehman in 1917. While I may find it difficult to adequately describe God's irresistible, unconditional love, this hymn does an amazing job. This song perfectly and eloquently describes this love of God I attempt to write about with insufficient words.

And the most astounding part is that according to Image Journal, the following stanza was originally a poem found scratched on the walls of an insane asylum. These words were found after the patient died and workers emptied his cell:

 Could we with ink the ocean fill,

 and were the skies of parchment made;

 Were every stalk on earth a quill,

 And every man a scribe by trade:

 To write the love of God above

 Would drain the ocean dry,

 Nor could the scroll contain the whole

 Though stretched from sky to sky. 

You might be asking why I would tell you all these things, thinking you were here to learn how to determine whether your anxiousness is seasonal or a sign of something more. Hold tight; we will get to that part soon!

But let me tell you why I think this song and story are essential for you to hear first. The remarkable words of the stanza were written by someone with a debilitating mental illness. The patient was locked up in a mental ward in complete solitude—probably without a window. Completely isolated from the outside world, and yet this man knew of the love of God. Obviously, this man was not alone in that cell. 

And Friend, you must understand our Abba is never far away. He is with you if you have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, and God is with you in all your anxious seasons. God is for you and wants you to achieve a sound mind and good spiritual health because He loves you greater far!

I'm guessing you come to iBelieve because you either believe in the only true triune God or don't know what to believe, but you are curious. This women's ministry site is a perfect place for community, hope, courage, and strengthening your faith and relationship with Jesus. No matter the subject, our primary purpose is to tell you of the One who can bring you through it all.

Friend, the community here is real! There are far too many of us who live with anxiety and anxiety disorders. Thanks to the advances in science, a wide array of therapy and therapeutic techniques, and the healing power of Jehovah Rapha (Exodus 15:26), there is help available. "The God who Heals" is here to relieve us from debilitating thoughts through various means.

So let's dive into some questions that will help you analyze if your anxiety is considered normal or a sign of an anxiety disorder:

Is My Anxiety Normal? 

After researching different mental health sites, I've determined there are four standard hallmarks that differentiate between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. Start by asking yourself the following questions. 

  1. Is my anxiety caused by specific circumstances or specific problems?

  2. Does your anxiety generally subside after the issue has been resolved? In past situations, did the anxiousness lessen within a reasonable amount of time?

  3. Are my worries based on reality? 

  4. Is my anxiety manageable and not causing extended adverse side effects like insomnia or significant health issues?

If you answered "yes" to all four of the questions, you are probably experiencing a season of anxiousness. We all experience periods of anxious thoughts, sleepless nights, and days of endless prayers. However, it is vital to continuously monitor your anxiety level and symptoms to get help when needed.   

Anxiety is a normal reaction to many events and situations in our lives. According to WebMD, scientists have labeled it a "fight, flight, freeze, fawn response." We have an internal warning system that alerts us to danger or threats and prepares our bodies to fight back or escape a dangerous situation. 

Not all anxiety comes from unfavorable circumstances. We can experience "butterflies" and worrisome thoughts about new changes like preparing for graduation, moving to a new house, having a new baby, and getting a job promotion.

Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. Even if you consider your anxiety as a normal response to events and situations in your life, your body could be pointing out that you need to ask for assistance. This help can be from friends, family, church members, and/or mental health professionals. Preventative care is the best care. 

Do I Have an Anxiety Disorder? 

If you answered "no" to any of the four preliminary questions about normal anxiety, let's look at six tell-tale signs that you are battling an anxiety disorder. Simply answer "yes" or "no" to the questions below:

  1. Does my anxiety come on without warning and possibly for an unknown reason? 

  2. Does my anxiety feel uncontrollable or unmanageable at times? 

  3. Are my fears and concerns based on unrealistic or highly unlikely situations? 

  4. Does my anxiety last for extended periods, especially after the anxiety-inducing problem has resolved?

  5. Do I purposely avoid situations that may trigger anxiety? 

  6. Does my anxiety cause unhealthy physical changes like insomnia, intestinal issues, suicidal thoughts, or panic attacks?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that scientists believe many genetic and environmental factors combine to cause anxiety disorders. "Studies support the [genetic] evidence that anxiety disorders 'run in families,' as some families have a higher-than-average amount of anxiety disorders among relatives." The article on NAMI describes environmental stresses as a prominent cause: "A stressful or traumatic event such as abuse, death of a loved one, violence or prolonged illness is often linked to the development of an anxiety disorder."

Answering "yes" to any of these questions is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. Friend, it is not your fault. Please do not view yourself as “less than” or a Christian with little faith. Instead, acknowledging that you are struggling can begin a journey of healing, a closer relationship with Jesus, and a life of hope-filled days (it certainly has for me). 

Is It Our Mind or Heart at the Root of Our Anxiety? 

I've often wondered if anxiety is a condition of the heart or the mind, like the difference between genetic and environmental factors. I believe anxiety is always a condition of the heart that affects the well-being of our minds and bodies. Either way, you certainly can't have one without the other. 

The mind and heart are mentioned throughout the Bible, sometimes interchangeably in the New Testament. We can deduce many different definitions based on different biblical contexts and the original language used. Typically, the mind refers to the part of a human that controls reasoning, intellect, and thoughts. The heart is the part of a human that controls the longings, feelings, hopes, dreams, and sometimes thoughts.

One known thing is that we need to engage our hearts, minds, and souls to have great faith and trust in God. (Matthew 22:37)

The popular verse, Psalm 94:19, written by King David, uses the heart in some translations and mind in others. I'm sure you had seen some version of this verse at some point, "When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy" (NIV). 

When you read Psalm 94:19 in the English Standard Version, you will see the use of the word 'heart.' "When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul."

If you compare the same verse in the New Living Translation, it defines anxiety as doubts of the mind. “When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.”

Regardless of the source, one thing remains the same: God's consolations are balm for our hearts, minds, and souls. I pray His comfort brings you relief from your anxiety and paves the way for endless joy!

Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Alexey_M

Darcie Fuqua headshotDarcie Fuqua is a Business Analyst, Auburn Grad (War Eagle!), Christian blogger & podcast host, and mental health advocate. She is from the deep south of Alabama, where she currently resides with her husband, two energetic fun-loving boys, and a dog named Charlie. She loves sinking her toes in the sand, cuddling with her boys, and having great conversations over a table of good food. You can read more of her writing on her website and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram. Check out Darcie’s latest project as cohost of Therapy in 10.