Recent Blog Articles

Harvard Health Blog

Do I have anxiety or worry: What’s the difference?

July 23, 2018

About the Author

photo of Luana Marques, PhD

Luana Marques, PhD, Contributor

Dr. Luana Marques is the director and founder of Community Psychiatry PRIDE at Massachusetts General Hospital and an Associate Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. She completed her PhD in Clinical Psychology at The State … See Full Bio
View all posts by Luana Marques, PhD


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


Gail Robinson
July 31, 2018

I had severe anxiety and depression for six years. I was treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for this. All my symptoms are now gone! I have become an advocate for this treatment. It continues to be improved–one in two patients treated get better and one in three get complete remission!

There is also a product called a “brain stimulator” by Fisher Wallace. It is FDA approved, and requires a prescription, AND there is a money-back guarantee!! It is also pretty inexpensive. It is marketed for anxiety disorders.
All these are exciting developments for people with anxiety or depression!

Gail Robinson
July 31, 2018

I had severe anxiety and depression for six years. I was treated with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and all these symptoms are now gone. I am quite an advocate for this treatment. One in two people improve, one in three with depression get complete remission from depression.
There are also some new products available for sale –the Fisher Wallace “brain stimulator” is the one I am familiar with. It is FDA approved, comes with a money back guarantee. Since one has to have a prescription for it, I am impressed. It is inexpensive, relatively speaking. I am writing all this in hopes it helps someone else!

Arleen Schinke
July 30, 2018

Only those who have experienced depression/anxiety can relate to and really treat it properly. The ability to empathize, which is so critical, only comes with the actual experience. I call it “God’s gift” for going through this particular Hell because it can’t be acquired any other way.

Hope beyond Hope
July 30, 2018

I have struggled with anxiety and depression all my life. I was diagnosed and treated for my condition when I was 14 years old. I began taking Prozac in 1992 and I continued to take it until my anxiety became so bad I had to try something else. I have a patern of coming off my meds when things are going good and it never ends well. I have finally come to the conclusion that I will never be completely free of this disorder, but I work daily to exercise what control I do have over my situation. I have found that a combination of faith, exercise, good rest, a healthy diet and for now Lexapro have helped me get through my daily life without complete panic attacks. One of the most frustrating things about this disorder is the fact that it feels like their is no way to control the way I respond to my environment and what life throws at me some days. What I do find comfort in is knowing that with God’s help , my network of friends and community I can face the future one day at the time. I have tried to commit suicide several times in my life , because I have felt so overwhelmed with my circumstances. I feel very misunderstood even by my own family. I feel like I am a burden on my family and wish more than anything I could function like a “normal “ person. I am thankful for publications like this that make readers aware of this disorder and for the helpful tools you have provided. However, sometimes you simply can’t avoid the anxiety.

Kelly Corrigan
July 30, 2018

I don’t think you have ever had anxiety. It is life altering and haunting. There is no escape. You can’t stop your mind for excessive thoughts. You are not nor can you be mindful of the situation. You have dug your yourself into an endless pattern of fear.

With worry you are present . You know what you are experiencing and have the ability to recognize an event is about to occur or is occurring.
Good or bad. You may be able to cope, or adjust the situation.

I do not believe physicians are taught or want to deal with worry or anxiety. They both require time with the patient and extreme empathy.

July 30, 2018

I’m afraid this article is too anodyne to help the anxious. I deal with anxious students frequently and 1) their situations and psychological/biological conditions are much more complex than these elementary (and very middle-class) examples and 2) they sound like the kind of advice from the non-anxious that makes my anxious students feel misunderstood and dismissed (and thus, alas, more anxious). They can’t just “ask themselves if their anxiety is useful”–never mind “valid”! They haven’t got “a few minutes to practice mindfulness.” Could you come back to us on this important topic with a slightly franker, meatier article? I suspect it’s written this way to keep anxious people from getting anxious reading it, which is a kindness, but in my experience people feel better if the truth of their situation or condition is seen and addressed. Sub-clinical anxiety is an awful way to live, so all power to you in trying to reach out.

Darin M Flynn
July 23, 2018

Thanks for the great article. It is very helpful to remind ourselves that some anxiety is normal. Unfortunately, when a patient feels anxious, it is too common to label and diagnose it as a disorder. As with other life-altering diseases, this dilutes the diagnosis much like someone “has cancer” who had a small basal cell carcinoma removed from an extremity who is grouped with a glioblastoma patient who also “has cancer”. Thanks again.

July 23, 2018

” challenge this by asking if it is valid or helpful.” Um, one of the problems that comes w/anxiety is that the negative thoughts seem realistic and valid. So asking oneself if they’re valid is going to get (for some people anyway), YES. What then?

Trying to learn to see thoughts as just thoughts, not necessarily defining reality for her/himself. What reality is, since people seem to have significantly different ideas about what constitutes “reality”–for example Reuters has an article re: how few MDs know/realize that cancer patients are way too often faced with what the article calls “financial toxicity” or that their treatments to deal with the cancer may put them into substantial debt (i.e., they may need to file for bankruptcy) they may lose their home, they may have cut back on food (according to the article, true for 1 in 5 of white or Asian women, for 50% of black and Latino women–that’s in the US, allegedly the ‘wealthiest nation” in the world–the one that refuses to provide affordable health care to its residents).

Seems that the typical oncologist’s reality is that: (1) oh is that happening? Who knew? and (2) not my problem, couldn’t possibly affect the success of treatment, now could it?

Commenting has been closed for this post.

You might also be interested in…

Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults each year. This Special Health Report, Anxiety and Stress Disorders, discusses the latest and most effective treatment approaches, including cognitive behavioral therapies, psychotherapy, and medications. A special section delves into alternative treatments for anxiety, such as relaxation techniques, mindfulness meditation, and biofeedback.

Read More

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!