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

Helping Veterans with PTSD Using Yoga

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A Psychologist’s Guide to People Watching

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Meaningfully Salient Parenting

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Being in heated conflict not with others but with yourself can—let’s face it—be agonizing. To be split down the middle, to endlessly waver between two (and sometimes more) options, can at its worst be almost unimaginably distressing. Obsessive to an extreme, it can lead to a paralysis of will (not to mention, much lost sleep). . . .

Living With a Control Freak? Some Sanity Tips

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on April 17, 2015 in Fixing Families
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By Anneli Rufus on April 17, 2015 in Stuck
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How Most Depression Can be Beaten With One Simple Method

By Clifford N Lazarus Ph.D. on April 17, 2015 in Think Well
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By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on April 17, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Josh Rouse shares how he has been able to conquer anxiety through mindfulness.

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Body Punishment

By The Book Brigade on April 16, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Obsessive-compulsive disorder takes many forms, but all of them involve repetitive behaviors that often create vicious cycles of anxiety and shame. Maggie Lamond Simone punished herself to maintain a public face—until the same disorder was diagnosed in her child. Only then did the healing begin.

What's Your Worst Nightmare?

By E E Smith on April 16, 2015 in Not Born Yesterday
They are the grim subject of several centuries-old paintings, in which a black horse (or "night mare") hovers near a sleeping figure. They have been the terrifying theme of movies, past and present––from "I Wake Up Screaming" (1941), to the latest "Nightmare on Elm Street" flick. So, what exactly is a nightmare?

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By Angie Hallier on April 14, 2015 in Life After Divorce
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Time to Tidy Up Your Head

By Susan B. Winston LMFT on April 13, 2015 in Shift Happens
When a book about tidying up your home hits the top of the best seller's list, there's got to be something worth reading in it. Or maybe this is just a wake up call for all of us to look at the kind of cleaning up we really need to do. The author asks that you completely empty your drawers and closets. I ask that you completely empty out your head.

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We tend to focus on ‘squashing’ ‘bad’ behavior, A shift in perspective to examining the motivations behind the behavior may ultimately prove more useful.

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Curiosity: The Heart of Lifelong Learning

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The Psychology of Why Cubicles Make Us Miserable

By Ron Friedman Ph.D. on April 13, 2015 in Glue
Depriving people of sunlight, restricting their views, and seating them with their backs exposed is not a recipe for success—it’s a recipe for chronic anxiety.