Advantages of Anxiety, Disadvantages of Anxiety

Anxiety can be difficult to live with; indeed, some might argue that is a huge understatement. There are different types of anxiety disorders, and each comes with its unique challenges and obstacles. All of them fall under the umbrella of anxiety because they share certain commonalities, such as excessive worry and fear, disruptive thought patterns, and a host of physical and emotional anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorders share another trait: anxiety, in general, has two sides.

Anxiety Has a Function, But It Can Turn Into Dysfunction

Not all anxiety is a disadvantage. Throughout human history, anxiety has kept us safe. Our ancestors who were just a bit on edge were more aware, more alert. They were prepared to keep themselves and others out of harm’s way, be that harm other humans, ferocious animals, or severe weather conditions.

This “edginess,” if you will, continues to keep us functioning optimally even today. A healthy level of worrying about a test, a presentation, a date or whatever life brings means that we care about something and this helps us prepare to do well.

It is when anxiety becomes too big, overtaking our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, that it stops being helpful and starts to be downright harmful. When anxiety skyrockets, rather than functioning better, we can almost completely shut down. Sometimes panic sets in. Sometimes we are driven into dark corners of our homes to hide in fear. Sometimes our obsessive anxious thoughts drive us to repetitive rituals, compulsions, in an attempt to alleviate the worry.

Anxiety Advantages and Disadvantages

Anxiety has two sides: both disadvantages and advantages. If you live with the disadvantages of anxiety, it's possible to turn them into advantages.

Anxiety isn't just a single word representing a single concept. There’s a lot to it, and that’s good news for those of us who live with it. Because it has depth and is multifaceted, it can be examined. Upon examination, we see that it has different aspects, each with two separate sides.

Anxiety can be crippling or motivating.

Anxiety can makes us prisoners or safe.

Anxiety can induce paralysis or a healthy case of the jitters.

Anxiety cause our thoughts to race uncontrollably or stimulate our thoughts enough to problem-solve.

Find a Place Between Anxiety's Extremes Where You Feel in Control

Truly, living with some anxiety is healthy. It helps us care, to prepare, do our best, and make good and safe decisions. It’s when anxiety becomes a monster that we experience the negative side of the coin.

The good news is that there are two sides and we don’t have to accept disadvantages. Study your own unique coin. What’s on the unhealthy side? What is this part of anxiety doing to you?

Once you have awareness of exactly what anxiety is doing to you in your life, you can decide how you want to flip the coin. What does the opposite of your anxiety look like? If it’s keeping you from socializing, for example, what’s on the other side of the coin: big parties, lunch with a friend, a walk down a public sidewalk? The other side of your coin doesn't have to be extreme. What does the flip side of your coin look like?

Now that you've pinpointed one of the disadvantages of your anxiety and what its opposite looks like for you, you can define little steps to take every day in order to flip over the coin of anxiety (it’s pretty heavy, so working in small pieces is best) and begin to experience life as you want to live it.

You can also connect with Tanya J. Peterson on her website, Google+, Facebook,Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2015, January 15). Advantages of Anxiety, Disadvantages of Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

July, 28 2016 at 7:47 am

i recently failed medical test for a job because my b.p was high

Dr Musli Ferati
February, 11 2015 at 1:03 am

That's right, anxiety as common emotional experience encompass broad specter of symptoms, which ones have different implications to our global well-being. Moreover, anxiety penetrates healthy and unhealthy state of everyone, it is present in each circumstantial interpersonal relationship or daily activity. So, we should be more alert to its repercussions on our personal, professional and social integrity, because it is unavoidable obstacle of life functioning. To be anxious and to suffer from any form of anxiety disorder isn't the same issue. The distinction between these two emotional condition is very delicate. But global index of personal life functioning indicates the difference between healthy and unhealthy anxiety. If it is weak and noxious for oneself welfare, then it is about for anxiety disorder as mental illness. Anxiety disorders as numerous psychiatric entities should be treat by current psychiatric protocols, because consequences of untreated anxiety are very dangerous for mental, somatic and social statement.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 11 2015 at 5:51 pm

Hello Dr. Ferati,
I'm so glad you returned to share your insights. I alwas enjoy reading your comments and professional thoughts. Thank you for mentioning the global index of personal life functioning (a similar scale that I'm familiar with is the global assessment of functioning). Tools that assess overall functioning are very important because they do the very thing you mention: help distinguish between a disorder and a disturbance/difficulty. It's when anxiety, etc. impacts someone's life functioning in a negative way that there is something that needs psychiatric attention. Thank you for contributing!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Nandita Shukla
June, 3 2018 at 12:48 pm

How to cure the anxiety pain
And what to avoid for curing pain

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