"Often mental health practitioners use screening tools like the generalised anxiety disorder scale (GAD-7), which is a self-report assessment to see how the person is being affected by their symptoms," adds Mistry. "If a person scores above 10 then that is a good indicator that their symptoms are in the clinical or abnormal range. Anything less than this would suggest mild anxiety." One more difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder is time. How much time in your life is anxiety sucking up? "Anxiety becomes problematic when the normal physiological and behavioural responses to danger are either exaggerated, remain present for longer periods of time, when the responses are persistent (chronic) and when they intensify, leaving the subject feeling utterly overwhelmed," Gozho explains.
If you feel like you're experiencing low-level anxiety that's not disrupting your life, it's well worth taking steps to manage it. Mistry says: "There are lots of ways we can manage symptoms without professional help. The foundations of great health start with simple things: good nutrition, good sleep, movement and social connection.
"Above this, you can use techniques such as deep belly breathing to help manage physical symptoms of anxiety. This simple technique is about taking an inhale for for seconds through your nose and exhaling through your mouth gently for at least five or six seconds. Practising this a few times helps to calm the body. "Another technique is to shake your arms and legs. The idea is that you shake the tension off or out of your body (I like playing Taylor Swift or Florence at this point). Other tools could be to practise mindfulness, reflective journaling or talking about life's stresses to your closet and trusted friends."
But if you feel like your anxiety levels are tipping into damaging territory, it's crucial to seek professional support. "Apart from generalised anxiety, anxiety can manifest in various forms such as health anxiety/hypochondriasis, obsessive compulsive disorders (OCD), agoraphobia, panic disorder, specific phobias, social anxiety, hypochondriasis, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Gozho tells us. "It is helpful to label anxiety because if left untreated, anxiety can worsen over time, leading to functional impairment. This negatively impacts one's quality of life and mental health overall. It is vital that people have the awareness of what anxiety is and seek treatment in a timely manner."