Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or fear of an event or situation. It is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you stay alert to a challenging situation at work, study more for a test, or focus on an important speech. Generally, it helps you cope with problems.
However, anxiety can incapacitate you if it interferes with your daily life, such as making you fearful of non-threatening everyday activities like riding the bus or talking to a colleague. Anxiety can also present itself as a sudden terror attack when there is no threat.
What are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders occur when excessive anxiety interferes with your daily activities such as going to work, attending classes, or spending time with friends or family. Anxiety disorders are serious mental illnesses. They are the most common mental disorders in the United States. Women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety disorders as men.
What are the most important types of anxiety disorder?
Sometimes worry keeps people with GAD from doing daily tasks. Women with GAD have a higher risk of depression and other anxiety disorders than men with GAD. They are also more likely to have a family history of depression.3
Panic disorder Panic disorders are twice as common in women as in men.4 People with panic disorders have sudden terror attacks when there is no real danger. Panic attacks can cause a feeling of unreality, fear of impending doom, or fear of losing control. Fear of unexplained physical symptoms is also a sign of panic disorder. People who suffer from panic attacks sometimes believe that they are having a heart attack, going crazy, or dying.
Social phobia. Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have an intense fear of being observed and judged by others. They are easily embarrassed and often suffer from the symptoms of a panic attack.
Who can have anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million Americans every year. Anxiety disorders also affect children and adolescents. About 8% of adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 have an anxiety disorder, the symptoms of which begin around the age of 6.5
What are the causes of anxiety disorders?
Researchers believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of factors, which can include:
Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle
Genetics. Anxiety disorders are inherited.
Traumatic events. Being sexually abused, assaulted, or abused can lead to serious health problems, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
Your doctor or nurse will ask you questions about your symptoms and your medical history. They will also do a physical exam or other tests to rule out other health problems that could be causing your symptoms.
Anxiety disorders are diagnosed when the fear of harmless situations, events, places or objects becomes excessive and you cannot control it. They are also diagnosed if the anxiety has lasted for at least six months and interferes with social activities, work, family, and other aspects of daily life.