Can I Be Healthy and Still Have an Anxiety Disorder?

April 8, 2014 Gabe Howard

Paranoia, general anxiety, panic attacks, I have them all, but how do you know if you have anxiety? Can you be physically healthy yet have an anxiety disorder?

If physical health was truly the gold standard for living well, instead of just the perception, I would be the luckiest man in the world. In my adult life, I haven't had the sniffles for more than a couple days. Frankly, my biggest physical flaw is that, as a redhead, my skin burns when I pass a beach-themed vacation poster.

Reality and perception are very different things. While my physical health can be defined as "pretty good for a middle aged guy," my mental health is best described as "dude, where are your pants?"

I suffer from anxiety disorders. I used to be so bold as to say "an anxiety disorder," but paranoia, general anxiety, panic attacks, and an ever present feeling of dread forced me to accept that one disorder just didn't cover it.

Paranoia, general anxiety, panic attacks, I have them all, but how do you know if you have anxiety? Can you be physically healthy yet have an anxiety disorder?

If you have ever taken a mindfulness class or dialectical behavioral therapy, then you are familiar with dialectical statements: that, like Schrödinger's long suffering cat, sometimes something can be two things at once. In our society, with the current thinking in place, I am my own paradox, my own dialectical statement: I am both perfectly well and undeniably unwell.

Anxiety Interferes with the Activities of Daily Living

The gold standard for determining all mental illness is the magic phrase "interferes with the activities of daily living." Anxiety disorders, as cataloged in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, are considered psychological disorders. It is healthy, apparently, to have constant anxiety if you are okay with it. If you aren't okay with it then you might be sick.

To what level your activities have to be interfered with is a testy subject for most people. The splinter effect can be seen on every level. People with mild anxiety do all they can to distance themselves from the housebound hoarder at the end of the proverbial block. Are you a worrier or are you paranoid? And, if you are paranoid, are you diagnosable? As with every spectrum, someone is almost on it, but not, and someone is on it, but barely.

Me? I'm in the anxiety game, my friends. If anxiety were football, I wouldn't be sick enough to be the all-star quarterback, but I am sick enough that you would agree I should be on the team.

And, whether we are still inside my football analogy or in real life, I am going to work hard enough that you will want to root for me.

You can find Gabe on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, and his blog.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2014, April 8). Can I Be Healthy and Still Have an Anxiety Disorder?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Gabe Howard

April, 11 2014 at 6:20 pm

Rooting for ya,Gabe! Keep the faith.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
April, 11 2014 at 9:43 pm

I really, really appreciate that, debf1! Thank you.

April, 12 2014 at 2:58 am

Gabe, all of my time reading about anxiety I have never come across what you said in your article “interferes with the activities of daily living.”
This is absolute gold and I have not heard this in social talks about anxiety, nor from my GP or my psychologist.
It just goes to show the power of the mind and if you let your thoughts and negativity slip away it can effect your life in some cases worse than a physical illness can.
Amazing how your perspective on anxiety can make the difference on whether it a good or a bad thing, I will defiantly be blogging about this in my next article.
Your article made a great read, thanks.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
April, 13 2014 at 3:40 pm

I sincerely appreciate your comments, Dekz. I am sincerely flattered that you liked the blog and I hope you will share your blog with me when it is completed. Thank you for reading and commenting!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 18 2014 at 2:59 am

No problem Gabe, it's an amazing thing you do. We all know how important mental health is and im glad you too have dedicated your time to helping others.

Dr Musli Ferati
April, 24 2014 at 1:29 am

Healthy, indeed exhibits hard and intrigued issue to define, because its components involves many biological, psychological and social determinants. As to pertain to anxiety as common mental disorder, we may to say that global health state embraces greats confused and contradictory concepts. The criteria for mental health condition are often in disfavor with level of global assessment functioning (GAF), because interaction of person with with its psychosocial milieu indicates perplex causal correlations. Surely, the satisfying index of life performances gives evidence for mental healthy statement, but personal feeling of happy and pleasure interfere with global welfare. On the other hand, anxiety as unavoidable emotional experience has got two opposite edge; morbid and useful one. The first one damages global wellbeing, while the other improves our health. These characteristics of anxiety fulfils the large spectrum of health in front of anxiety. At least, we are innocent victims of anxiety toward numerous life needs. Let's soften these conflict on personal benefits!

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