Acera Health

Is Anxiety Considered Neurodivergent?

Reviewed by: Melody Stone
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For many, understanding the realm of mental health can sometimes be like navigating through an intricate maze. One question that frequently arises is, “Is anxiety neurodivergent?”. The short answer is no. Anxiety, by itself, is not considered neurodivergent. However, there is a relationship between neurodivergent conditions and anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) alone affects a staggering 6.8 million adults, equating to 3.1% of the U.S. population. Such a substantial figure emphasizes the critical nature of comprehending and addressing anxiety not just as a footnote but as a significant and stand-alone concern.

On the other hand, when considering neurodivergence, it’s captivating to note that an estimated 15-20 percent of the world’s population exhibits some form of neurodivergence. This vast percentage showcases the commonality and widespread nature of neurodivergent conditions, making it even more crucial to differentiate and understand each condition on its merit and not conflate them with anxiety disorders.

What is Neurodivergence?

Neurodivergence, a term coined in the 1990s, refers to variations in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, mood, and other neurological functions. These differences are often viewed through the lens of conditions such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and more. Being neurodivergent means that an individual’s neurological development and functions are divergent from what is considered typical or neurotypical.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural and often healthy emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical symptoms like increased blood pressure. Everyone feels anxious now and then, whether it’s due to a presentation, an exam, or pivotal life decisions. Yet, many are unaware of a deeper layer to anxiety. Delving deeper, you might be intrigued by our exploration on “How Does Anxiety Affect the Brain?”. This dives into the intricate neurological processes shaped by persistent anxiety.

However, it’s essential to differentiate between occasional anxiety and anxiety disorders. The latter goes beyond temporary worry or fear. For those with an anxiety disorder, the feelings don’t merely dissipate. Instead, they can intensify over time, profoundly influencing daily activities, job performance, and personal relationships.

What are Neurodivergent Conditions?

Neurodivergent conditions are those that represent variations from what’s considered neurotypical brain function. These include but aren’t limited to:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Dyslexia
  • Dyspraxia

While each of these conditions has unique challenges and characteristics, many individuals with neurodivergent conditions may also experience anxiety. However, that does not mean anxiety itself is a form of neurodivergence.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

According to Harvard Health, anxiety can manifest in a plethora of ways, both mentally and physically. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • Constant, overwhelming worry
  • Restlessness or feeling on edge
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Avoidance of certain situations or places

For those interested in exploring alternative methods of addressing these symptoms, you might consider reading our article on How to Manage Anxiety without Medication. Discover valuable strategies and holistic approaches to mitigate anxiety effectively.

Treatment for Anxiety

Anxiety, especially when chronic, can be debilitating. But the silver lining is that it’s treatable. Common treatments include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy can help individuals recognize and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that fuel their anxiety
  • Medications: Anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants, and beta-blockers can be prescribed to manage symptoms
  • Lifestyle Changes: Exercise, meditation, and stress management techniques can be immensely beneficial
  • Support Groups: Sharing feelings and challenges with others can be therapeutic
  • Inpatient Treatment: This is a more intensive treatment option for individuals in a healthcare facility, such as Acera Health. It offers a structured environment with 24-hour care and is typically suited for individuals with severe anxiety or those at risk
  • Outpatient Treatment: This allows individuals to live at home and attend treatment sessions at a healthcare facility on scheduled days. This treatment option is more flexible and is often recommended for those with mild to moderate anxiety or after an inpatient treatment phase

For those trying to discern specific anxiety disorders or how they might differ from other mental health conditions, our article on the Difference Between Social Anxiety vs. Avoidant Personality Disorder is enlightening. Understanding these distinctions can aid in seeking the most appropriate care and treatment.

How to Tell if I’m Neurodivergent?

Determining neurodivergence can be complex. Often, it requires comprehensive assessments by professionals. Here are steps to consider:

  • Research and Self-reflection: Begin by understanding the symptoms and characteristics associated with neurodivergent conditions.
  • Seek a Professional Opinion: Schedule an appointment with a psychologist or psychiatrist specializing in neurodivergent conditions.
  • Undergo Assessment: This may include interviews, questionnaires, and other tests to understand your neurological functioning.

Anxiety Treatment – Acera Health

At Acera Health, we understand the profound impact anxiety can have on one’s life. Our residential mental health treatment center offers an integrated approach to managing and treating anxiety. With a dedicated team of professionals, state-of-the-art facilities, and personalized care plans, we ensure every individual finds the path to a healthier, balanced life. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you or a loved one struggles with anxiety. We’re here to help.

While anxiety is not considered neurodivergent, the intersectionality between anxiety and neurodivergent conditions is undeniable. Recognizing, understanding, and addressing one’s mental health needs is crucial for overall well-being.


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