What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. But in some cases, it becomes excessive and can cause sufferers to dread everyday situations.

This type of steady, all-over anxiety is called Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Other anxiety-related disorders include panic attacks—severe episodes of anxiety which happen in response to specific triggers—and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by persistent intrusive thoughts or compulsions to carry out specific behaviors (such as hand-washing).

Anxiety so frequently co-occurs with depression that the two are thought to be twin faces of one disorder. Like depression, it strikes twice as many females as males.

Generally, anxiety arises first, often during childhood. Evidence suggests that both biology and environment can contribute to the disorder. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to anxiety; however, this does not make development of the condition inevitable. Early traumatic experiences can also reset the body’s normal fear-processing system so that it is hyper-reactive to stress.

The exaggerated worries and expectations of negative outcomes in unknown situations that typify anxiety are often accompanied by physical symptoms. These include muscle tension, headaches, stomach cramps, and frequent urination. Behavioral therapies, with or without medication to control symptoms, have proved highly effective against anxiety, especially in children.

Recent posts on Anxiety

Should You Take a Break From The News?

How do we balance our desire to show support and confront the reality of the world we live in with the need to take care of our mental health?

Here Come the Holidays

Prepare now with these 7 tips if family get togethers are struggles throughout the holidays and look forward to them with happy anticipation instead of fear and dread.

Class Reunion

By Susan Hooper on October 24, 2016 in Detours and Tangents
For decades, I shuddered at the memory of my high school years. Attending my high school reunion helped me put those memories in a new context.

Having Election Anxiety? You Are Not Alone!

By Judy Carter on October 24, 2016 in Stress Is a Laughing Matter
If you’re finding that your emotional well-being is challenged by this presidential election, you are not alone. Therapists report "Trump Anxiety" among clients. The cure? Read on.

The Usefulness of Worry

By Reid Wilson Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in All about Anxiety
The unconscious mind will think that worry is solving problems. So it will stay in repeat mode. But that's wrong. Either worry triggers problem-solving or worry is useless noise.

Keeping Life in Perspective

By Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. on October 24, 2016 in Emotional Fitness
I want a low-stress life, and I want to live as fully as possible. I know that keeping things in perspective is a far better way of going on with this (mostly) wonderful journey.

When Anxiety Means Suffering, Can Therapy Really Help?

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on October 23, 2016 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
Some therapists intuitively help clients develop right brain self-regulation. Therapists who are not relationally intuitive apply "paint-by-numbers" therapy learned in grad school.

"Help Me Stop Thinking About My Ex Girlfriend"

"She’s all fine and dandy, and I struggle with this every day," Jim said after his girlfriend of several years broke up with him. Read on to find out how people like Jim can cope.

Sleep Like a Baby With Lactium and Magnesium

Want to reduce anxiety and sleep better, naturally? These two supplements can help.

Turn Your Critical and Controlling Inner Voice to a CALM MO

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on October 22, 2016 in Theory of Knowledge
Transform a harsh, critical inner voice to one that is Curious, Accepting, Loving, and Motivated to learn and grow.

The Impact of Death on our Everyday Lives

Defensive reactions to personal trauma, separation issues, and especially death anxiety impact our lives at three distinct levels.

You Have Power Over Your Brain Chemistry

Your brain has an operating system inherited from earlier animals. It rewards you with "happy chemicals" when you step toward meeting needs and alarms you with "unhappy chemicals.

The Happiness Myth

By Atalanta Beaumont on October 20, 2016 in Handy Hints for Humans
The achievement of happiness is a myth

Kids Who Cut

American youth are stressed. Non-suicidal self-injury is one response to stress that’s common among adolescents and young adults. To prepare adults, training programs are emerging.

How to Tell if You Should Avoid Contact With Your Ex

If you and your ex cannot or do not intend to treat each other like true friends, then needless to say, it is best to end all contact ASAP.

Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Skin Conditions

If you are anything like most people that suffer from skin problems, you will notice that your skin is often on your mind.

The Secret to Achieving Your Dreams No One Tells You About

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on October 19, 2016 in Feeling It
You're more likely to achieve your dreams if you are happy, here's why.
Courtesy J Middleton

A Secret Worth Sharing

By Lybi Ma on October 19, 2016 in Brainstorm
Guest post by Jacquelyn Middleton

The Bizarre Outbreak of Hallucinations in Oregon

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 19, 2016 in It's Catching
A mysterious outbreak of hallucinations has U.S. authorities baffled.

Groundbreaking Study Roots Out Signs of Depression in Brain

By Christopher Bergland on October 18, 2016 in The Athlete's Way
This pioneering discovery could lead to more effective treatments for depression.

The Social Contagion of Psycho Clowns

By Kevin Bennett on October 17, 2016 in Modern Minds
Should you be taking "clown craze 2016" seriously? Social panic sets in as clowns run wild. Real or imagined?

Mastering Your Emotions

By L. Kevin Chapman Ph.D. on October 17, 2016 in Evidence Based
The "how to" guide of mastering all of your emotions

When the Perks of Love Interfere With Love

It is sometimes the case that the gifts of love become more important (and are certainly more safe from the risks and anxieties of love) than love itself.

Claustrophobia: Cause and Cure

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on October 16, 2016 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
On top of a building, the most direct escape is to jump, a thought that can trigger panic and make stairs and elevators seem impossible to navigate. The answer: alarm attenuation

Please Keep Your Emotional Support Iguana Off My Couch

By David J Ley Ph.D. on October 15, 2016 in Women Who Stray
Emotional support animals offer valuable assistance. But sometimes, therapists need to focus on helping people develop alternative strategies of soothing and anxiety-reduction.

Clown Scare to Grow Violent, then Subside after Halloween

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on October 15, 2016 in It's Catching
It's likely to get worse before it gets better.

When the Referral Question Is "Depression and Anxiety"

By Gregg Henriques Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Theory of Knowledge
How should we think about a referral for help with "depression and anxiety"?

Why Clowns Creep Us Out

By Frank T. McAndrew Ph.D. on October 14, 2016 in Out of the Ooze
Clowns are mischievous and unpredictable, and they have an association with serial killers in real life and in the movies. In other words, clowns are designed to creep us out.

Understanding and Treating Selective Mutism

By Barbara Markway Ph.D. on October 13, 2016 in Shyness Is Nice
Does your child speak freely and easily at home, but not at school or other public places? Find out if your child has selective mutism, a childhood anxiety disorder.

Struggle for a Sense of Humanity

The fight to hold onto a sense of humanity inner voices of conflict, powered by covert guilt and shame. In most of us, these voices are faint. In some they bellow.