Anxiety Is Not a Feeling. It's a Response.

As the most common mental health issue in the U.S., anxiety is often equated to a mere feeling — fleeting and easy to ignore.

"For most of my life, I assumed anxiety was what I was feeling, and because of that assumption I spent most of my life chasing after the symptoms, trying to alleviate those, rather than work on the deeper issue," writes Rhett Smith, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and contributor to the RelateStrong | Leadership Series eBook. "I discovered anxiety was not a feeling or an emotion, but was rather the response to some deeper, underlying feeling."

Or, as Allan Hugh Cole Jr., Ph.D. writes in his book 'Be Not Anxious: Pastoral Care for Disquieted Souls':

"To put it another way, the type of anxiety that concerns us here, and the type I believe pastors tend to encounter, has less to do with circumstances or situations and more to do with personhood and relationship," writes Cole Jr.

In other words, anxiety is rooted in more than just circumstance, situation or feeling.

It is marked by physiological signs in response to psychological stressors. Understanding this distinction is key to walk your church through this complex topic, providing the guidance your community seeks.