What is anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam or having a medical test or job interview.
It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes but does not interfere with your everyday life.
With an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.
Symptoms of general anxiety include:
- Increased hear rate.
- Rapid breathing.
- Trouble concentrating.
- Difficulty falling asleep.
- Nervousness, restlessness, or being tense.
- Feelings of danger, panic, or dread.
- Rapid heart rate.
- Rapid breathing, or hyperventilation.
- Increased or heavy sweating.
- Trembling or muscle twitching.
- Weakness and lethargy.
- Difficulty focusing or thinking clearly about anything other than the thing you’re worried about.
- Digestive or gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
- A strong desire to avoid the things that trigger your anxiety.
- Obsessions about certain ideas, a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Performing certain behaviors repeatedly.
- Anxiety surrounding a particular life event or experience that has occurred in the past, especially indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.