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

Are You Overcommitted?

By Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc on July 30, 2016 in Inner Source
Is overcommitment wearing you out and causing illness? There are steps you can take to rebalance

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety

By Joel Minden, PhD on July 30, 2016 in CBT and Me
When everyday worries turn into intense anxiety, these strategies based on cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can help.

When Falling Brings About Great Work

In the blink of an eye, I found myself on the putty colored carpet surrounded by the shrapnel of scattered chair parts. And it was the best possible thing that could have happened.

Conquer Your Anxiety with This Easy Fix

Fear is becoming an increasing reality of daily life, but you don’t have to be overwhelmed by this highly negative emotion. New research shows how to prevent it in the first place.

How Fear & Anxiety Drive (Some) Narcissists To The Internet

Fear of rejection and low self-esteem pushes vulnerable narcissists to prefer online interactions over in-person socializing.

Just Having a “Plan B” Makes It More Likely You’ll Need One

Research has found that when you plan for failure, you're basically giving yourself permission not to succeed.

What Dale Earnhardt Jr. Can Teach Auto Accident Survivors

By James F. Zender Ph.D. on July 29, 2016 in The New Normal
Dale Earnhardt Jr. advances public awareness of concussions.

Curing Fear of Flying in 140 Characters or Less

Sam was insistent. If I wasn't using Twitter to help people fly, I was missing something big.

4 Simple Steps to Conquer Your Fears

Tired of being dominated by your fears? Here are four tips to help you overcome them.

Why We Read WebMD

Research explains the impulse to look for medical information online.

Mental Healthcare Lacking for Small Business Owners

Small business owners also face the risk of experiencing mental illness.

The International OCD Conference: A Focus on Compassion

By Dennis Tirch Ph.D on July 27, 2016 in Practice Compassion
We look at the many reasons why compassion can enhance the treatment of OCD and anxiety.

A New Payoff to Risky Decisions

By Hara Estroff Marano on July 27, 2016 in Brainstorm
Scientists discover how facing risky decisions makes us smarter. Guest post by Shira Polan.

A Good Therapist Is Hard to Find

Most therapists aren't providing research-supported treatment. How to spot a good one.

Worry Nation

By Marty Nemko Ph.D. on July 26, 2016 in How To Do Life
We have much to worry about but there are ways to mitigate.

The Counterintuitive Case for Cougars

Conservationists believe increasing the cougar population will actually save human lives. Will logic trump our ingrained fear of large predators?

The Long Way Around

Sometimes a detour is the fastest way to arrive.

Fear of Inadequacy and What to Do About It

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on July 25, 2016 in Ambigamy
More than we notice, we're driven by fear of inadequacy. Here's the way to manage it.

Want To Save Yourself Years Of Heartache?

Dysregulated relationships have a hard time surviving the transition from the passion of the honeymoon period into a mature, profound, and sustainable commitment to reciprocity.

Try to Forget: The Psychology of Repression

By Adrian Furnham Ph.D. on July 25, 2016 in A Sideways View
What do the cognitive psychologists and the psychoanalysts say about repression?

The Surprising Emotion Behind Anxiety

Are you seething inside but acting cool on the outside? Learn how to safely let go of your controlled demeanor, and communicate honestly and directly.

Is the World More Dangerous Now Than Ever?

By Eric Dietrich Ph.D. on July 24, 2016 in Excellent Beauty
Fear of violence seems to be governing our lives these days. But should it? Could the world actually be safer now than it has ever been?

The Problem with Obstacles

I recently wanted to prescribe a medication called Prevacid for a patient. It's a proton pump inhibitor that shuts off acid production in the stomach.

We Worry About the Wrong Things

Five examples of how our minds get hung up on things that are unlikely to affect us, and overlook things more likely to matter.

Am I Messing Up My Kid?

With all the advice out there it's easy to have unfair and unrealistic expectations for yourself and your children. Recognizing the good in what you do will ease the pressure.

Sexual Freedom: Only Part of the Equation for LGBTQ Refugees

LGBTQ refugees continue to experience social isolation, perpetuating a sense of danger and persecution.

Fear Keeps Depression in Place

Fear of success is sometimes a bigger obstacle than fear of failure.

How Couples Misunderstand Each Other

A heart-breaking experience of counseling couples is seeing good people suffer due to the entirely avoidable illusion of sameness.

The Pressures of Social Media: Should I Disconnect?

Some people talk about giving up social media as the answer to the always-on pressures of connectivity. A better solution is "Social Media Mindfulness."

Feeling a Fraud? It's Not Your Fault!

By Katherine Hawley Ph.D. on July 19, 2016 in Trust
What if a toxic workplace environment is making you feel like an imposter?