Anxiety: symptoms, characteristics and anxiety states.


Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, threat, worries and physical changes, such as an increase in blood pressure.

People with Anxiety Disorders usually have recurring thoughts and worries. Additionally, they can avoid certain situations such as trying to manage (or not address) concerns. The most frequent physical symptoms of anxiety are sweating, shaking, tachycardia and dizziness / dizziness.

The word anxiety, from the Latin angere meaning “to tighten”, communicates very well the feeling of discomfort experienced by those who suffer from one of the disorders related to their spectrum, or the idea of ​​constraint, embarrassment and uncertainty about the future. Anxiety, in fact, is a state characterized by feelings of fear and worry not connected, at least apparently, to any specific stimulus, unlike fear which presupposes real danger. The American Psychiatric Association (1994) describes it as:

Difference between anxiety and fear: distinguish them and understand their value

Anxiety is different from fear, since fear is a functional reaction to face an immediate danger while anxiety aims to address a concern about the verifiability of a future event. Psychologists emphasize this aspect of “immediacy” typical of fear, in contrast to the act of “forecasting” that characterizes anxiety. It should be emphasized that anxiety and fear are not necessarily “bad” sensations, but on the contrary have an adaptive role. Fear, in fact, is fundamental in the “fight or flight” response, which allows us to mobilize all our resources to face the threat or, alternatively, to flee from it.

Anxiety disorders: when the discomfort becomes clinically relevant

According to the guidance provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), anxiety disorders differ from normal developmental fear or anxiety because they are excessive or persistent (typically lasting 6 months or more) than the stage of development.

Symptoms of anxiety

In detail, the anxious symptomatology, which manifests itself with greater severity in Panic Disorder, includes: palpitations, heart palpitations or tachycardia, increased sweating, fine or large tremors, dyspnoea or a feeling of suffocation, feeling of suffocation, pain or discomfort chest, nausea or abdominal discomfort, feelings of dizziness, dizziness, light-headedness or fainting, chills or hot flashes, paraesthesia (numbness or tingling sensations), derealization (feeling of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from themselves), fear of losing control or “going crazy” and fear of dying.

Anxiety and other pathologies

Finally, it is good to mention the pathologies frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders. In medical and psychiatric language, this term means the coexistence of another pathology, usually of different origin, during the clinical course of the one considered. For example, we could diagnose an anxiety disorder comorbid with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder or ADHD.


The diseases that are most frequently associated with anxiety disorders are: depression (especially), bipolar disorders, ADHD, respiratory, heart and gastrointestinal diseases, arthritis and hypertension (Sareen et al., 2006). It has also been observed that patients with other diseases comorbid with anxiety disorders show a worse course of the disorder and a lower quality of life than patients affected only by an anxiety disorder (Sareen et al., 2006).


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