Do I worry too much, or is it anxiety?

When does a natural – and in some ways healthy – response to a stressful or worrying situation become something more serious?

This article was written by our community partner, Beyond Blue. Medibank and Beyond Blue are working together to empower all people in Australia to be better connected with knowledge, resources and support to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

mother hugging daughter while sitting outside

Throughout your life, you’re likely to experience stress and worry at different times, for various reasons. But how much worry is too much?

And when does a natural – and in some ways healthy – response to a stressful or worrying situation become something more serious?

In order to establish whether what you’re feeling is ‘normal’ stress or worry, it’s first important to know exactly what stress, anxiety and depression are.

What are stress and worry?

At its most basic level, stress and worry are common responses to difficult situations or events. Most people are reasonably equipped to deal with these responses, although there are various factors that play an important role in your ability to do so.

Things that commonly bring on feelings of stress include:

  • experiencing something new or unexpected
  • experiencing something that threatens our sense of self
  • feeling as though we have little control over a situation.

Most people can adapt fairly well to stress as long as it’s short-lived.

But stress can become problematic for both physical and mental health if it’s accumulative and long-term.

Learn more from Beyond Blue about when stress leads to anxiety and depression, and see our tips on ways to reduce stress.

Better supported with 24/7 Mental Health Phone Support

When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it can be hard to know where to start. Members with hospital cover can talk to a mental health professional for advice, guidance and support anytime of the day or night.~

What is anxiety?

While everyone feels anxious from time to time, anxiety is more than just feeling worried or stressed. 

Anxious feelings and stress are a common response to a situation where we feel under strain, however this usually passes once the main source of stress has gone.

If your anxious feelings linger, occur regularly, or make daily life difficult and unenjoyable however, it may be the sign of an anxiety condition. 

It’s important to know that there are many ways to help manage anxiety and the sooner people with anxiety get support, the more likely they are to recover. 

Find out more about the signs and symptoms of anxiety and ways to manage it.

What is depression?

Feeling low, irritable or sad now and again is completely natural, but if you’re experiencing these feelings for longer than a month and to the point where your day-to-day life is seriously impacted, it’s time to get help.

Depression is a serious condition that affects both physical and mental health. Seeking help as early on as possible will aid your recovery. Contacting your GP is the first step.

Here you can find more information on depression, including signs, symptoms and ways to support your mental health.

Get a sense of how you’re going

Once you have a good understanding about what stress, anxiety and depression are, get a feel for where you’re at with your own mental health using Beyond Blue’s simple checklist, which focusses on your thoughts, feelings and behaviour over the past four weeks.

It’s important to note that it's not a diagnosis – only a health professional can provide that – but it can help you monitor and gauge how you’re coping. It’s equally important to understand that your results are likely to be impacted by what we’ve been through in terms of the pandemic. Regardless, if you do feel that your thoughts and feelings are impacting your everyday life in a negative way, it’s always better to speak to a professional who can provide support and guidance.

If you feel even a little bit uncertain or unsettled but don’t think your concerns are ‘important enough’ to call a support service – they are. 

You can talk to a counsellor at Beyond Blue’s Support Service at any time of day on 1300 22 4636, or if you are a Medibank member, you can call the 24/7 Mental Health Support Line on 1800 644 325

Related articles

Things you need to know

~ OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees).