Is Anxiety A Mental Illness?

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and can make a contribution to his or her community (WHO, 2004). Well-being is an experience of health, happiness and prosperity. It includes good health, high life satisfaction, meaning or purpose in life and ability to manage stress. There are different types of well-being like physical, psychological, social, and emotional and so on. Mental illness is a condition that involves changes in thinking, emotion or behaviour (a combination of these), it is associated with distress and problem functioning in social, work or day-to-day activities (APA).

Anxiety can be defined as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Anxiety disorder shares features of excessive fear and anxiety (anticipated future threat) and behavioural issues. There are various types of anxiety disorders such as specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, substance or medication-induced anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, agoraphobia and other unspecified anxiety disorder. Everyone faces anxiety at some point in their life which its okay but when the anxiety leads to excessive fear, threat and starts interfering with day-to-day activities, social and work life then it is an anxiety disorder. The difference between anxiety and when it is to be considered as anxiety disorder or mental illness is based on the intensity, frequency, consistencies and criteria of anxiety disorder.  

There are certain ways to deal with anxiety. They are as follows –

  • Learning relaxation exercises– Relaxation exercises like breathing in and breathing out, imagining yourself in a calm place, or meditative guidelines for steps to stay relaxed can be very helpful in dealing with anxiety. 
  • Change in lifestyle– Lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, staying hydrated, proper sleeping schedule including exercise can help you to stay relaxed.
  • Regular walk- You can go out for a walk and clear your head in order to deal with your anxiety.
  • Learn yoga- Yoga practice involves joining of the body, mind, and spirit. Through breathwork, meditation, movements, and relaxation, yoga can help restore a sense of personal balance. 
  • Journaling – In this, you can share your thoughts through any medium of expression.
  • Grounding exercise – Look around you and find:
  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste
  • Aromatherapy – Whether they’re in oil form, incense, or a candle, scents like lavender, chamomile, and sandalwood can be very soothing. Aromatherapy is thought to help activate certain receptors in your brain, potentially easing anxiety.
  • Sharing – You can share your thoughts with your closed one. 
  • Apps – You can use apps which will help in making you relax or calm or provide a buddy listener like FeelJoy.
  • Join a social support group – You can also join a social support group. It will help you to connect with people who are going through the same issue and provide social support to deal with it.
  • Read books – You can read self-help books, engage in activities which help you remain calm and connected.
  • Practise mindfulness – You can practise mindfulness in your day-to-day activities such as mindful drinking, staying mindful while doing any activity in a day, etc.

In this, we understand what is mental health, mental illness, anxiety, anxiety disorder and when anxiety can be considered as illness or disorder. It suggests certain ways to deal with anxiety. These are certain ways which will help in dealing with anxiety. If the anxiety is interfering with your day-to-day activities, work and social life then you can seek professional help which will help you to understand your issues in a better manner and deal with the same.

Find a BUDDY to share all your problems with (even anonymously, if you want) on the FeelJoy Mobile App available for all Android users.


Masters in Psychology, Delhi University Curious about Psychology, writer by expressivity ! Expression of human thoughts via words is one of the biggest achievements of mankind. "Run to rescue with love and peace will follow"- Joaquin Phoenix
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10 thoughts on “Is Anxiety A Mental Illness?

  1. Thank you for sharing. It helps me understand the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Well written 👏

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