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Worried At Work? | Anxiety At Work

According to research from the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders affect approximately 40 million adults in the United States and anxiety disorders have been found to have major impact at our places of work. Studies by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) found that individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders may turn down promotions, avoid staff meetings and may overall, be less productive than their non-anxious co-workers. Anxiety at work can negatively affect a person’s health and well being, and it can also have a very detrimental, negative effect on the company overall.

anxietyworkWork anxiety is a common experience for many. We worry and are anxious about job security, deadlines, performance reviews, and giving presentations. Often we are also anxious about co-worker relationships and we worry about what our boss might think of us. Work-related travel is another stressor that can lead to a great deal of work anxiety.

A certain base level of anxiety about work is normal and inescapable and actually helps us to perform better. The unsettled feelings, the edginess and watchfulness caused by anxiety can actually give us energy and boost our work performance. However, large-scale research conducted in 2014 found that elevated levels of anxiety can have a negative effect on employees’ job performance, behavior and attitude as anxiety hinders their work. Studies found that chronically anxious individuals:

  • are less confident in their skills
  • are more pessimistic about their work contributions
  • are less likely to set goals and measure themselves against their goals
  • are more likely to give up
  • are often dissatisfied with their jobs

Additionally, anxious individuals often have poor relationships with their coworkers as they are frequently perceived to be unpleasant and less likeable than their non-anxious coworkers. Their peers and superiors tend to describe anxious employees as poor team players and consider them less socially skilled.

Anxiety can also negatively impact a person’s cognitive abilities. When anxious at work, anxious individuals often have difficulty understanding, concentrating, processing information and following directions. Anxiety’s cognitive effects can easily be mistaken by managers and supervisors, as incompetence or a lack of motivation instead of the consequence of high levels of workplace anxiety.

It is important to note that workplace anxiety and anxiety disorders are not necessarily the same. However, anxiety disorders often emerge at work, but work anxiety can be a problem of its own. Research published by the Journal of Anxiety Disorders states that, “Work-related anxieties can manifest in the form of phobia, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, fears of insufficiency, or hypochondrial anxiety in relation to work, working conditions, or colleagues and superiors.”

Well-meaning coworkers often suggest that their anxious colleague just snap out of it. However, even though the anxious person knows that he is worrying too much, he is usually unable to change on his own. Fortunately, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are among the most treatable mental disorders and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been found to be the treatment of choice. Unlike other talk therapies that delve into a person’s past and look for reasons or causes of anxiety, CBT helps a person to focus on current challenges through an active, collaborative effort between the therapist and client. With CBT, the individual who suffers from work anxiety is taught to recognize and change inaccurate beliefs, identify unhelpful thinking patterns and learn to interact with coworkers and superiors in healthier ways.
At GroundWork Counseling in Orlando, our therapists who have been specifically trained in CBT techniques can help you develop strategies for managing workplace anxiety, improve work-life balance and help you to be resilient during the inevitable times of uncertainty and stress at work.


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GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
341 N Maitland Ave #330
Maitland, FL 32751


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Portland, ME 04101

Burlington, VT 05043

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