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

Tylenol Blunts Positive Emotions Too

By Art Markman Ph.D. on July 07, 2015 in Ulterior Motives
A while back, I wrote a blog entry on studies demonstrating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) can dampen people’s responses to negative events. So, if you experience social pain, you may actually be able to medicate yourself for it in the same way that you take pain killers for a headache.

Dealing With Trauma

Controlling what we remember could lead to programming trauma victims to eliminate painful memories and strengthening the ability to retain certain types of information.

Fear Itself

In Anxiety, Joseph LeDoux, the director of the Emotional Brain Institute at New York University, draws on the latest research in neuroscience to argue that anxiety and fear are best understood not as biologically wired phenomena emerging in a pre-packaged way from brain circuits, but as experiences that have intruded into and become factors in conscious awareness.

The Importance of Rest

By Jennifer Hamady on July 06, 2015 in Finding Your Voice
Getting adequate rest has become a priority in our household. Because without proper sleep, we are unable to be our best in our work, for each other, and most importantly, for our precious son.

4 “Selfies” That Drive Us Crazy

We all worry where we stand with others. These four self-portraits, and the gaps between them, provide a map of your self-conscious thoughts.

7 Things I Love About Women With Postpartum Depression

When we can harness that arousal, we can guide her toward support resources that she is unable to utilize distress is high.

Why Vulnerability Takes Courage

Being vulnerable can be terrifying, but when we find the courage to step out on stage, we have the opportunity to reveal our deepest secret, which is often ourselves.

Arousal: Must It Mean Fear and Danger?

We can feel fear when safe. We can feel no fear when in danger. It takes more than feelings to determine whether we are safe or not. A sophisticated system hosted in the pre-frontal cortex does that.

The Moment I Was Transformed Into a Champion Worrier

When I was a fearless young person, I had no clue that I would one day turn into a champion worrier.

Ten Tips for Making a Family Vacation Great

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on July 05, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
Why do so many family vacations fail to live up to our expectations and what can we do about it? Read on to discover the secret to making family vacations great.

You're No. 1—Act That Way

By Hal Mathew on July 05, 2015 in Unagoraphobic
Doing things in your best interest ain't a bad thing.

Undecided

By Frances Cohen Praver Ph.D. on July 03, 2015 in Love Doc
Darla has it all. She is brainy, beautiful, sexy, and successful. At the ripe age of 33 she is worth 200 million dollars. She owns a chain of medical spas with top plastic surgeons who offer numerous beauty enhancing procedures. Darla easily makes good decisions in her spas.

Orange is the New Bleak: What the SHU Can Do to Your Brain

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on July 03, 2015 in Brain Babble
What happens to the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary when they're sent to the SHU? Not much; that's why it's so terrible.

The Psychology of Repression

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on July 02, 2015 in A Sideways View
Repression is a well known Freudian concept, written about by both Sigmund and daughter Anna. The central question is how and why this process occurs and whether it is essentially healthy or unhealthy?

Separation Anxiety: The Great Imitator, Part 4

You’ve been waiting for it! In the grand finale of this series Dr. Stepita discusses treatment option for canine separation anxiety.

What Happens in the Shower May Not Stay in the Shower

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on July 02, 2015 in Think, Act, Be
Experiencing your shower in a different way might change your day.

Dr. Google

By Guest Blogger on July 01, 2015 in The Guest Room
The social stigma of mental illness on campus is so pervasive that the only place many look for help is online.

The Secret to Slowing Your Anxious Mind

Why you must speed up your thinking to slow down your life.

My Daughter Is Going To College And I Am Terrified

How To Handle Anxiety About College

6 Tips for a Fun 4th of July for Parents of Kids With Autism

The 4th of July is a fun and exciting holiday filled with many amazing activities for your children. However, for some individuals with autism and their families, the crowded public spaces and the crack and shimmer of fireworks can be difficult and uncomfortable.

Anxiety and Overcoming Failure to Launch Syndrome

When overcoming debilitating anxiety in young adults, what matters most is not just an improvement according to a diagnostic manual (known as “syndromal improvement”) but also functional improvement. In essence: Has the young adult’s life improved in ways that he or she now has more hope, feels happier, and has a sense of real, meaningful connection to the world?

Embracing Hardship, a Surprising Secret to Happiness

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on June 29, 2015 in Feeling It
We try to avoid pain and difficulty. Research shows that embracing it will help.

Revolutionary: the Pressure-Less Diet

If you feel like you are burdened daily, have trouble sleeping, and going nowhere fast, it's time to start the pressure-less diet.

The Cure for Fear, Grief, and Death

When Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s infant son was kidnapped and murdered, only this story helped her.

Does Everyone Seem Clique-y? the Problem May Be You

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on June 28, 2015 in Friendship 2.0
Entering any group as an outsider can be difficult. Often, we sabatoge ourselves by assuming that others are snobby or exclusive, when in reality they just already know each other-- and that's what makes us uncomfortable.

9 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Mind

Are you stuck in overthinking? Anxious thoughts and worries can overwhelm you and make it even more difficult to make decisions and take action to deal with whatever problem is bothering you. Learn tools from Mindfulness and Cognitive-Behavior Therapy to take back control of your life.

10 Odd Emotions You May (or May Not) Have Experienced

Have you ever felt that you were out of place? Or,a sense of sadness that you will never know what will happen to your great-great-grandchildren? How many of these strange feelings have you have experienced?

6 Signs You Might Want to Call a Therapist

Depressive thinking can inhibit help-seeking behaviors.

Inside Out—A Major Emotional IQ Picture

The voices in our heads are real—and these distinct personalities can learn to get along.

Procrastination 101: Determine the Source, Solve the Problem

Procrastination has many sources and determining your own goes a long way in putting procrastination to rest. Some of the common causes and their antidotes.