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Worried or stressed out all the time? Erin Coe looks at the differences between feeling anxious and having an anxiety disorder School life is stressful. There are tests to pass, sports teams to qualify for and members of the opposite sex to impress. With all that pressure, it's no surprise you experience anxiety from time to time. But, what if it's more than anxiety and it's actually an anxiety disorder? Don't know how to tell them apart? Read on. these can include big tests or fights with friends - whereas having an anxiety disorder can mean you're stressed a lot of the time, but you can't pinpoint why. This can have debilitating effects, Johannesburg clinical psychologist Dr Colinda Linde explains: 'When their anxiety levels are too high, people stop being able to effectively cope or manage their situation.' The result? They will have a higher tendency to abuse alcohol and suffer from depression, and their relationships often take strain. Janine Shamos from the SA Depression and Anxiety SPOT THE DIFFERENCE The difference between just being anxious and having an anxiety disorder is the reason why you're feeling anxious. Your regular anxiety is often the response to a stressor Group (SADAG) says, 'Unlike the everyday sadness or anxiety we all feel from time to time, the psychological and physical symptoms linked with anxiety disorders are often so intense that they stop people from doing the very things that they want (and often love) to do.' TAKE A CHILL PILL Anxiety disorders may sound scary and perhaps make you feel like your ordinary 'I think I failed my maths test' concerns are silly. They are not though. So, whether you suffer from a disorder or are simply anxious at times, life coach Amanda IMAGES, ISTOCKPHOTO Foster has some tips when it comes to dealing with your stress and worries: Make big life-changing decisions when you're anxious. Numb the anxiety by using inappropriate substances. Push the feelings of anxiety aside and pretend they do not exist. Post on social media. 'Rather remove yourself from the virtual world and "get real".' ANYIETY DISORDERS 101 Here are three of the most common disorders: 1. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) According to Janine, 'In order to be diagnosed with GAD, there are certain criteria that must be met. These include excessive anxiety and worry most days of the week for at least six months; difficulty controlling your feelings of worry; and anxiety that interferes with daily life or causes distress.' On top of that, sufferers feel restless and fatigued; often can't concentrate, and they may have muscle tension and problems sleeping. Panic disorder Panic disorder involves recurrent unexpected panic attacks followed by the fear of experiencing future panic attacks - that is one vicious cycle right there! 'Imagine your heart starts pounding, you begin to sweat, you start taking short, shallow breaths, your hands start to tingle, and you feel light-headed and nauseous. Then suddenly, without warning and for no reason, you feel a surge of overwhelming fear, which can last anywhere from five to 30 minutes. That's a panic attack,' Janine says. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) PTSD can develop after a traumatic experience. 'Incidents such as a car accident, hijacking, rape, or even witnessing such an event can produce emotions of intense fear, helplessness and horror. They can also shatter our basic assumptions of safety, predictability and controllability. But things like divorce, moving to a new school and bullying can - and do - cause PTSD too.' Possible symptoms include experiencing flashbacks, having distressing dreams and nightmares, being nervous and jumpy, and even beginning to avoid people, places or things that remind you of the initial trauma. PHY: GALLO/GE DO... Something for yourself that makes you happy. 'We forget to be nice to ourselves.' Take time to connect with a trusted friend. Open your eyes, look up and put your shoulders back. 'A slight change in posture can change the way you feel.' Move your body. 'A walk in the forest or a dance class - even something small - will shift your energy.' DON'T... YOU ME NOT AI,ONE A recent study by SADAG revealed that 16-23% of South Africans are affected by some kind of anxiety disorder. We're not trying to freak you out, though. If you're having any big doubts or worries, talk to your doctor or call SADAG on 0800 12 13 14 or 0800 70 80 90.