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 invasive 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

A Big Decision: Choosing to Estrange From Family

By Kylie Agllias Ph.D. on March 01, 2015 in Family Conflict
The choice to estrange from family is often portrayed as a simple and selfish act, but the reality and the experience is much more complex.

The Top 9 Reasons I Hate Anxiety

Here are the top 9 reasons I hate anxiety--and you should too!

Fear and Pain Can Alter Memory

What we experience today can impact our memories of similar events that happened yesterday. Our present-moment experience is so powerful it may reinforce or ‘overwrite’ our memory of a past experience.

8 Warning Signs Your Lover is a Narcissist

The Mayo Clinic research group defines narcissistic personality disorder as “a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration." How do you know when your romantic partner may be a narcissist? Here are eight telltale signs...

Can Bacteria Make You Fat?

The problems of keeping things in the family

Healthy Relationships Overlooked in Search for a Quick Fix

By Amy Banks on February 28, 2015 in Wired For Love
Simply thinking about your strongest relationships can change your brain chemistry in a positive way. Imagine the benefits of being face to face with the people you love!

Finding The Sweetness in LIfe Even When Times Are Tough

By Allison Carmen on February 28, 2015 in The Gift of Maybe
I had just found out my mother had breast cancer, and I was walking to meet her for dinner. My mind was seized by the most frightening thoughts of losing my mother and what this illness would mean. All of a sudden, a beautiful breeze hit my face and an enveloping peace and joy ran through me. Was it okay for me to feel this joy when danger was looming over my family?

How People Quit Being High Maintenance

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Ambigamy
Holding our heads high is good an necessary, but higher than other heads is exhausting both for us and the people who have to deal with us. Here's an alternative.

Think You Can't Get Drunk on Soda Water? Think Again.

Don't blame it on the alcohol! Blame it on your expectations about drinking.

How to Tidy Your Home Mindfully

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on February 26, 2015 in Urban Survival
Could the cluttered state of your home be holding you back? Marie Kondo's method of decluttering is about more than tidying the home—surrounding yourself with things that bring you joy can help you achieve a greater clarity and awareness of the mind, too.

Should Health Care Providers Joke About Patients?

By Jean Kim M.D. on February 26, 2015 in Culture Shrink
Medical Gallows Humor can help providers cope, but at what cost to the care provider-patient relationship?

Having a Baby: When You Don't Agree

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on February 26, 2015 in Fixing Families
Being on different pages about having children can be a major relationship roadblock. The key is uncovering the problem under the problem -- some likely suspects.

Coping With Traumatic Brain Injury

By Robert T Muller Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in Talking About Trauma
Tricia Williams, a clinical neuropsychologist at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, explains how to improve child development and mental health for individuals coping with a TBI.

Are Kids Curious?

By Glenn C. Altschuler Ph.D. on February 26, 2015 in This Is America
In The Hungry Mind, Engel draws on the latest social science research to understand why curiosity is nearly universal in babies, and less evident in school. Although most children learn more when their curiosity is piqued, “schools do not always, or even often, foster curiosity.” But in an era that prizes quantifiable results, curiosity is not likely to be a priority.

How to Respond When Trauma is Revealed

Asking clients questions about past or present experiences of trauma, abuse or neglect has become a standard part of the intake and assessment phases of most mental health treatment practices. The therapist’s initial responses can help set the stage for subsequent processing and healing.

Should You Write With a Partner?

By Dennis Palumbo on February 25, 2015 in Hollywood on the Couch
Learn the pros and cons of writing with a partner.

7 Ways Your Relationship Can Change You

Who you are is less stable than you think, especially when it comes to the influence of romantic partners.

9/11, President Obama and the Haunting of America

By Rupert W Nacoste Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in A Quiet Revolution
Talk about being haunted. In the context of the shock of 9/11 and the shock of electing a non-white to the Presidency, America is filled with fear of psychological ghosts; filled with intergroup anxiety.

How to Integrate Mindfulness Practices into the Classroom

By Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in The First Impression
How may college students benefit if mindfulness practices are introduced into their classes?

Make Social Learning Stick: How Parents Can Help Children

By Dan Peters Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in From Worrier to Warrior
For special needs children, many daily activities and experiences like getting ready for school, going to the doctor, having a play date and celebrating birthdays are very challenging. The good news: these events can become opportunities for teaching and reinforcing expected social and emotional behavior.

Anxiety is a Mindfulness Problem

By Linda Esposito LCSW on February 25, 2015 in From Anxiety to Zen
Awareness is everything to anxiety. The solution isn’t identifying why you’re anxious—but recognizing the signs of anxiety before nervousness, panic and rapid breathing hijack your emotional wellness.

8 Tips to Ease Parental Anxiety

By Susan Newman Ph.D. on February 25, 2015 in Singletons
Parents have cornered the market on anxiety when it comes to their children. Worry paralyzes both parent and child, making children fearful and stifling their curiosity and development. Here’s what parents can do to modulate and minimize their fears.

New Sleep Guidelines to Keep Youth Healthy

By Richard Taite on February 24, 2015 in Ending Addiction for Good
Without regular age appropriate amounts of sleep, adolescents are at risk for developing a variety of conditions such as depression, anxiety, weight change, and sometimes insomnia.

How Changes in Media Use Can Transform Mental Health

By Rebecca Jackson on February 24, 2015 in School of Thought
Morning grouchiness is not an uncommon complaint from parents—especially parents of teenagers. But what happens when your child's mood doesn't improve throughout the day—when your child seems to be terminally bad-tempered? This case study examines the effect of media multitasking on a teenage boy's mental health.

Malignant Narcissism and the Murder of a Parent

By Carrie Barron M.D. on February 24, 2015 in The Creativity Cure
This blog explores Malignant Narcissism and the damaging impact that it can have on family members and others.

3 Myths About Eating Disorders Debunked

By Nicole Avena Ph.D. on February 24, 2015 in Food Junkie
Eating disorders can be very difficult to understand. In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, take some time to learn a bit more about these disorders and the truth behind a handful of myths that surround them.

Resolving Social Conflict Between Familiar Cats

Cats may abruptly begin fighting with a cat they have known for years. Other times, a cat may dislike a new cat from the very first introduction. Have you ever had cats that did not get along? Please share your cat’s story and how you resolved the problem of quarreling kitties.

Why Some College Students Love Molly

It's not surprising that college students look to party drugs.

What Is the Best Diet for Mood?

By Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc on February 23, 2015 in Inner Source
Which diet is the healthiest for your brain and mood?

Where Does the Anger in Your Relationship Come From?

Everyday love can come with some anger... but is your anger linked to who you are, rather than what your partner did?