What is anxiety?

Anxiety disorder is a serious mental illness that can cause serious worry or fear, but it may even get worse over time. We all feel anxious sometimes, but for anxiety disorders, anxiety is often quite persistent and has a very negative and intrusive effect on a person’s quality of life.

Types of anxiety

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

Fifth edition Manual of Diagnosis and Statistics of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) The diseases that are generally considered anxiety disorders are divided into three categories:

  • anxiety
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder and related diseases
  • Trauma and stress related diseases

This distinction shows that although these diseases have commonalities and correlations, they also have significant differences.

Anxiety symptoms

Anxiety disorder is accompanied by a series of symptoms, no one has the same experience. Each disease also tends to have different symptoms.

Common symptoms of anxiety disorders generally include:

  • hard to fall asleep
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings of tension, worry, panic, fear, and restlessness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Nausea
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Sweaty or cold hands and/or feet
  • Tingling or numbness in hands or feet
  • Unable to calm or stay still
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When you experience familiar physical and psychological signs of fear and anxiety, such as sweating, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremors, worry or stress, these signs indicate that something that may pose a threat is happening and you need to deal with it.

This “flight or fight” response activates the physical and psychological resources needed to deal with potential dangers. Although the system works well in most situations, it sometimes runs over speed, which does more harm than good. When this happens, it may indicate that you are suffering from anxiety.


No one knows exactly what causes anxiety, although there seem to be multiple factors, including genetics, environment, stress levels, brain changes, and trauma. Researchers have been discovering more information about these links.

Millions of American adults experience anxiety disorders at some point in their lives. Since women are twice as likely to suffer from anxiety as men, experts recommend that women and girls over 13 years of age should be screened for anxiety during routine health examinations.

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Although your doctor may perform some tests to rule out physical problems, there are no laboratory tests that can be used to diagnose anxiety.Your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, or consultant, who will use specific diagnostic tools and questions to help determine which disease you may have.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide to help you ask the right questions the next time you see a doctor.


There are many options to treat anxiety disorders, including psychotherapy, medication, and coping strategies. One form of psychotherapy that is particularly effective for patients with anxiety disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). If you suffer from anxiety, there are many treatment options that can help you live a fulfilling life.

Remember, treatment may take some time before you and your doctor can find the best option for you. Be patient and keep open communication with your mental health professional in order to find the plan that best suits your individual needs.


What is anxiety?
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