Anxiety: Overview

Anxiety is the well-known feeling of concern. Some level of rational anxiety is normal some of the time and does not indicate a disorder. Anxiety is also reasonably common in response to emotional stress or physical illness. Anxiety is also a normal response in severe medication conditions such as difficulty breathing, severe pain, heart attack and others. Abnormal anxiety can be caused by a variety of disorders including psychological disorders or physical disorders. Extreme anxiety can occur as an “anxiety attack” which is a sudden onset of severe anxiety, fear, and panic (also called a “panic attack”).

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Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects or rituals. Simple phobias involve excessive anxiety evoked by specific objects (e.g., marked fear of snakes). As its name implies, social phobias are fears of interacting with others, particularly in large groups. In obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the individual experiences an obsession - an intrusive and recurrent thought, idea, sensation or feeling - coupled with a compulsion - a behavior that is recurrent and ritualized, such as checking, avoiding, or counting.1 In addition to being helped by pharmacotherapies, anxiety disorders are often addressed by exposure (to the object or event obsessed over) and response prevention -not permitting the compulsive behavior, to help the individual learn that it is not needed.1

Source: CDC1

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Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Source: NIMH (NIH)2

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Fear and anxiety are part of life. You may feel anxious before you take a test or walk down a dark street. This kind of anxiety is useful - it can make you more alert or careful. It usually ends soon after you are out of the situation that caused it. But for millions of people in the United States, the anxiety does not go away, and gets worse over time. They may have chest pains or nightmares. They may even be afraid to leave home. These people have anxiety disorders. Types include

Treatment can involve medicines, therapy or both.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health

Source: MedLinePlus (NIH)3

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Anxiety is a normal response to stress. But when it becomes hard to control and affects your day-to-day life, it can be disabling. Anxiety disorders affect nearly one in five adults in the United States.1 Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.2 Anxiety disorders are often treated with counseling, medicine, or a combination of both. Some women also find that yoga or meditation helps with anxiety disorders.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. It is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you stay alert for a challenging situation at work, study harder for an exam, or remain focused on an important speech. In general, it helps you cope.

But anxiety can be disabling if it interferes with daily life, such as making you dread nonthreatening day-to-day activities like riding the bus or talking to a coworker. Anxiety can also be a sudden attack of terror when there is no threat.

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders happen when excessive anxiety interferes with your everyday activities such as going to work or school or spending time with friends or family. Anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are the most common mental disorders in the United States. Anxiety disorders are more than twice as common in women as in men.

Source: OWH (DHHS)4

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Depression and anxiety. Many factors cause depression and anxiety among all women. However, lesbian and bisexual women report higher rates of depression and anxiety than other women do. Bisexual women are even more likely than lesbians to have had a mood or anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety in lesbian and bisexual women may be due to:

  • Social stigma
  • Rejection by family members
  • Abuse and violence
  • Unfair treatment in the legal system
  • Stress from hiding some or all parts of one's life
  • Lack of health insurance

Lesbians and bisexuals often feel they have to hide their sexual orientation from family, friends, and employers. Bisexual women may feel even more alone because they don't feel included in either the heterosexual community or the gay and lesbian community. Lesbians and bisexuals can also be victims of hate crimes and violence. Discrimination against these groups does exist, and can lead to depression and anxiety. Women can reach out to their doctors, mental health professionals, and area support groups for help dealing with depression or anxiety. These conditions are treatable, and with help, women can overcome them.

Source: OWH (DHHS)5

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Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fear or anxiety that is difficult to control and negatively and substantially impacts daily functioning. Fear refers to the emotional response to a real or perceived threat while anxiety is the anticipation of a future threat. These disorders can range from specific fears (called phobias), such as the fear of flying or public speaking, to more generalized feelings of worry and tension. Anxiety disorders typically develop in childhood and persist to adulthood. Specific anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder (social phobia).

National prevalence data indicate that nearly 40 million people in the United States (18%) experience an anxiety disorder in any given year. According to SAMHSA’s report, Behavioral Health, United States - 2012, lifetime phobias and generalized anxiety disorders are the most prevalent among adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 and have the earliest median age of first onset, around age 6. Phobias and generalized anxiety usually first appear around age 11, and they are the most prevalent anxiety disorders in adults.

Evidence suggests that many anxiety disorders may be caused by a combination of genetics, biology, and environmental factors. Adverse childhood experiences may also contribute to risk for developing anxiety disorders.

Source: SAMHSA (DHHS)6

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Anxiety disorders affect nearly 1 in 5 American adults each year, creating fear and uncertainty that interferes with everyday activities. The good news is that most anxiety disorders get better with treatment.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)7

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Anxiety is an uneasy feeling that something may harm you or a loved one. This feeling can be normal and sometimes even helpful. If you’re starting a new job or taking a test, it might make you more alert and ready for action. But sometimes anxiety can linger or become overwhelming. When it gets in the way of good health and peace of mind, it’s called an anxiety disorder.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)8

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Anxiety is a normal response to stress. But when it becomes hard to control and affects your day-to-day life, it can be disabling. Anxiety disorders affect nearly one in five adults in the United States.[1] Women are more than twice as likely as men to get an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.[2] Anxiety disorders are often treated with counseling, medicine, or a combination of both. Some women also find that yoga or meditation helps with anxiety disorders.

Source: OWH (DHHS)9

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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear about an event or situation. It is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you stay alert for a challenging situation at work, study harder for an exam, or remain focused on an important speech. In general, it helps you cope.

But anxiety can be disabling if it interferes with daily life, such as making you dread nonthreatening day-to-day activities like riding the bus or talking to a coworker. Anxiety can also be a sudden attack of terror when there is no threat.

Source: OWH (DHHS)10

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What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders happen when excessive anxiety interferes with your everyday activities such as going to work or school or spending time with friends or family. Anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are the most common mental disorders in the United States. Anxiety disorders are more than twice as common in women as in men.

Source: OWH (DHHS)11

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Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It can help you cope with a hard situation. For example, anxiety helps one deal with a deadline at the office or can push you to study for a test. But when anxiety becomes an extreme, irrational dread of everyday situations, it can be disabling. Anxiety disorders include:

Source: OWH (DHHS)12

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anxiety disorders: A group of mental disorders marked by excessive feelings of apprehension, worry, nervousness and stress. Includes panic disorder, various phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare13

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Anxiety is an uneasy feeling that something may harm you or a loved one. This feeling can be normal and sometimes even helpful. If you're starting a new job or taking a test, it might make you more alert and ready for action. But sometimes anxiety can linger or become overwhelming. When it gets in the way of good health and peace of mind, it's called an anxiety disorder.

"Everybody has anxiety," says Dr. Daniel Pine, a psychiatrist and an NIH neuroscientist. "The tricky part is how to tell the difference between normal and abnormal anxiety."

"For those with anxiety disorders, fears, worries, and anxieties can cause so much distress that they interfere with daily life. The anxiety grows out of proportion to the stressful situation or occurs when there is no real danger.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)14

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Anxiety

Everyone gets anxious from time to time - it’s a normal response to stressful situations like having a job interview. But for some people, the feelings of anxiety can be a lot more extreme and become what’s known as an anxiety disorder.

Source: New Zealand Health15

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Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life - for example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.

However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

Source: NHS Choices UK16

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Are you extremely worried about everything in your life, even if there is little or no reason to worry? Are you very anxious about just getting through the day? Are you afraid that everything will always go badly?

If so, you may have an anxiety disorder called generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Source: NIMH (NIH)17

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Many of us worry from time to time. We fret over finances, feel anxious about job interviews, or get nervous about social gatherings. These feelings can be normal or even helpful. They may give us a boost of energy or help us focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, they can be overwhelming.

Source: NIH News in Health (NIH)18

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Anxiety: Apprehension of danger and dread accompanied by restlessness, tension, tachycardia, and dyspnea unattached to a clearly identifiable stimulus.19

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Anxiety Disorders: Persistent and disabling Anxiety.20

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Anxiety: Feeling or dread, apprehension, and impending disaster.21

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Anxiety Disorders: A cognitive disorder that involves an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations.22

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Anxiety Disorders: A cognitive disorder that involves an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations.23

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Anxiety is a neurological and physiological symptom characterized by a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill.24

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Anxiety adverse event: A psychiatric disorder adverse event that has an outcome of a psychological and physiological state characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components. These components combine to create an unpleasant feeling that is typically associated with uneasiness, fear, or worry.25

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References

  1. Source: CDC: cdc.gov/ mentalhealth/ basics/ mental-illness/ anxiety.htm
  2. Source: NIMH (NIH): nimh.nih.gov/ health/ topics/ anxiety-disorders/ index.shtml
  3. Source: MedLinePlus (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ anxiety.html
  4. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ publications/ our-publications/ fact-sheet/ anxiety-disorders.html
  5. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ publications/ our-publications/ fact-sheet/ lesbian-bisexual-health.html
  6. Source: SAMHSA (DHHS): samhsa.gov/ disorders/ mental
  7. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ mar2016
  8. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ nov2011/ feature1
  9. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ a-z-topics/ anxiety-disorders
  10. ibid.
  11. ibid.
  12. Source: OWH (DHHS): womenshealth.gov/ mental-health/ illnesses/ anxiety-disorders.html
  13. Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: aihw.gov.au/ reports-statistics/ health-welfare-overview/ australias-health/ glossary
  14. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ summer15/ articles/ summer15pg4-5.html
  15. Source: New Zealand Health: health.govt.nz/ your-health/ conditions-and-treatments/ mental-health/ anxiety
  16. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ generalised-anxiety-disorder/ 
  17. Source: NIMH (NIH): nimh.nih.gov/ health/ publications/ generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/ index.shtml
  18. Source: NIH News in Health (NIH): newsinhealth.nih.gov/ issue/ mar2016/ feature1
  19. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  20. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  21. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  22. Source: Disease Ontology
  23. Source: Monarch Initiative
  24. Source: SYMP Ontology
  25. Source: OAE Ontology

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.