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

Mental Health Screening Wouldn't Have Saved Germanwings 9525

By Jean Kim M.D. on March 30, 2015 in Culture Shrink
Screening must balance concerns of rare high-risk cases versus the vast majority of functional people with mental illness trying to overcome stigma and judgment

7 Science-Based Reasons to Laugh Every Chance You Get!

By Emma M. Seppälä Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Feeling It
Go on, rent that comedy! Laughter has more benefits than you even know!

Get on the Train

By Ariel Gore on March 30, 2015 in Women and Happiness
I'm going to give you some advice your parents and teachers might not: Drop out of high school.

One Key to Happiness, Success, and Resilience

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in The Web of Violence
What is your goal in life? To be happy? Successful? Resilient? How about “psychologically regulated"? That last one might not be a popular response to the question I posed, but it should be. And I will tell you why.

Protective Parenting an Adolescent

With all the media attention devoted to adolescents getting in trouble, getting hurt, and getting killed, it's hard for parents not to worry about their teenager and to act restrictively in her or her defense. However, the best protection parents can provide is self-management preparation for safely functioning in a hazardous world.

10 Tips to Balance Work and Life

You owe it to yourself and your family to create a balance between what you do and whom you love. Many people put work before family and relationships. At times, doing this may be a necessity. If the wolf is at the door, it’s understandable. But if you find that work has become your life, here are some tips to help you find your balance again.

The Backlash Against Psychiatric Diagnoses

Only in mental health does there exist the idea that we should avoid diagnostic terms if the cause of the suffering is great. This well-intentioned but misguided effort only alienates people further.

Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases

During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. We need to restore psychiatry where it belongs. The psychotherapy of character is an art and a science that bridges the old divide between psychotherapy and the brain.

Do You Feel Inadequate? Good.

Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt have a positive side. If we want to be more creative, perhaps instead of building our self-confidence, we should be nurturing our feelings of inadequacy?

A Surprising Ingredient to Make Your Relationship Last

You'll be surprised by this key ingredient to make your marriage work.

Nausea Unto Death?

Responsibility

Changes in the Family: Impact on Sexual Development

In modern times, the family unit has been dramatically reconstructed. Regardless of the family’s formation, the behaviors observed by children of both single and two-parent families significantly impact children’s sexual development.

Suicide or Mass Murder? : The Deliberate Downing of Flt 9525

By Stephen A Diamond Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in Evil Deeds
What motivates suicidal mass killings like the deliberate downing of Germanwings Flt. 9525?

Fear the Future

By James Sherlock on March 29, 2015 in Ape Expectations
In our modern world, anxiety is a burden to many. In our past, however, it may have been the difference between life and death.

Murder in a Locked Room:

By Kirby Farrell Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in A Swim in Denial
In a paradox worthy of Greek tragedy, the fortified cockpit door to Germanwings Flight 9525 invited the mass murder it was meant to prevent. Can we make sense of a co-pilot’s rampage?

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Part II

A case study illustrating comorbidity and distinctions between bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Don't Let Anxiety Hold You Back From Living Your Dreams

Are anxiety and excessive caution getting in your way and stopping you from living a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Avoidance feeds on itself and makes you less confident, while getting started and taking action creates a positive cycle that naturally helps your anxiety go down. Learn five effective ways to get a handle on anxiety so you can move forward.

How To Keep The Reader Reading

By Sheila Kohler on March 29, 2015 in Dreaming for Freud
Suspense often lies in putting a vulnerable creature into a dangerous position. Thus it comes from within ( the vulnerability) and without ( the outer danger) or to put it differently from the character, himself, or from the world outside him.

Stop Using Fear to Promote Treatment for Mental Illness

By David J Ley Ph.D. on March 29, 2015 in Women Who Stray
Today, the fear of the moment is the risk of violence from the mentally ill. Tragedies abound in our media, and sadly, many can be linked to mental illness. Particularly untreated mental illness.But, reactionary responses to mental illness merely guarantee more problems in the future.

Pressure Anxiety: A Contemporary Plague

By Hendrie Weisinger on March 29, 2015 in Thicken Your Skin
Pressure Anxiety---if you don't have it, chances are great you know many who do!

Fear and the Fear of Fear

By Gregg Henriques on March 29, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
There are often two levels to our negative feelings, such as fear. Not only do we fear things, but we fear our fearful responses. This "affect phobia" is at the root of many emotional problems.

You're Okay . . . That's All You Need to Remember

The desire and expectations you have for your own personal growth should be tempered by the acknowledgement that you are okay and that you, alone, know yourself best.

Detox From Negative News In The Media

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on March 27, 2015 in Urban Survival
Feeling weighed down by all the negative news in the media? Here's how to detox from the influx of negative events and news in the media.

Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann: Creativity in Psychotherapy

Treatment of psychotic patients is very difficult and many practitioners believe that it is impossible to employ psychotherapy ef with such patients. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann was a courageous and creative therapist who extended and improved treatment in dramatic and sustaining ways. Her work has been a model for all mental health practitioners treating severely ill patients.

Teenagers Are From Earth

Our black-and-white thinking about adolescence is getting in our way.

Easing Flying Fears after the Germanwings Crash

Don't let the crash in the Alps make your flying phobia resurface.

A Corporate Push to End the Stigma of Mental Illness

By Sigurd Ackerman M.D. on March 27, 2015 in Shrink Tales
A new era of corporate acknowledgment of, and support for, mental health would give a dramatic boost to how we address mental illness in America.

Are You a Survivor of Sexual Assault and Afraid of Flying?

12 Air travel tips for sexual assault survivors who are afraid of flying

Letting Things Have a Life of Their Own

Turning people—turning all things—into projects is a very effective defense against allowing them to have a life of their own. Irrelationship provides a place for our attention to be focused instead of on our fear of real relationship, real intimacy. The conclusion to this brief case study provides an exemplar for how we can recover from the irrleational defense—together.

Somatic Experiencing

Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a powerful method of overcoming trauma via the mind-body connection, and often without medication. This piece by Saint-Laurent and Bird is a great introduction for those considering the treatment as well as for therapists interested in SE training.