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

Not Sleeping?

Rolling around in bed thinking a mile a minute when you want to be sleeping isn’t fun. Sometimes a simple mindfulness routine can turn down the tensions and send you into dreamland.

As Mental Health Awareness Month Winds Down...

Each of us can think about our own mental wellness--for the month of May and beyond.

Vulnerability

Because we are limited, finite, mortal beings, vulnerability to trauma is a necessary and universal feature of our human condition. Suffering, injury, illness, death, heartbreak, loss--these are possibilities that define our existence and loom as constant threats. To be human is to be excruciatingly vulnerable.

How Does Yoga Relieve Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain triggers changes in brain structure that are linked to depression, anxiety, and impaired cognitive function. New research shows that yoga can have the opposite effect on the brain as chronic pain.

How to Foster More Adaptive Thinking

By Gregg Henriques on May 27, 2015 in Theory of Knowledge
A review of how to employ the cognitive approach to maintain an adaptive mindset during stressful conditions.

Anger Management Failures

Anger management fails for the same reason that diets don’t work.

GRAFTS: Variations on Our Irrelationship Song-and-Dance

Our specific song-and-dance routines—ways that we reverse caretaking role with our key caregiver(s)—become the basic blueprint the pattern of interaction we will develop to care for our key caregiver. These patterns can be called GRAFTS and the acronym describes—in a very basic broad stroke—some of the habits that can become part of our caregiving conditioning.

Come Here-Go Away; the Dynamics of Fearful Attachment

Adults “fearful” attachment styles feel lonely and want closeness in relationships; at the same time, they are avoid close relationships because of possible rejection or emotional injury. Learn how understanding this style can free you of the tyranny of your emotions so that you can live with intent. You can also learn to love and help your loved ones with this style.

Seven Lessons from the History of Adulthood

Lessons from the past that illuminate the present.

Your Life After Trauma

By Patty Chang Anker on May 26, 2015 in Some Nerve
For trauma survivors the thought of living a big, brave life may seem far fetched. A new book provides an essential blueprint for going forward with confidence.

4 Morning Success Rituals to Start Your Day Off Right

Tips to ensure a calm, productive morning.

Wrong Self-Appraisals Result from the Use of Wrong Criteria

Mental conflicts, including intrusive thoughts or emotions (e.g., rumination on trauma or other negative events, self-blame, shame, hopelessness, guilt, anger, or sadness) result from both unawareness that the self-schemas or appraisals are regulated by one’s pattern schemas, and the use of wrong or distorted pattern schemas for self-evaluations.

A Heart-Rending Story of Courage in the Face of Loss

Bella lost her baby. What she did with her anger, grief and shame is remarkable.

Games to Cure Common Sex Problems

Too fast or too slow (or not at all!) Premature ejaculation for men and anorgasmia (no orgasm) for women are the two most common sexual problems that plague a couple’s sexual experience. Anxiety is the root cause of both problems. Solve these problems easily with two fun psychologically-oriented sex games.

Anxiety Lies

Anxiety lies. It takes advantage of us because we’re vulnerable. It has all the moves. It makes us feel weird and strange in our bodies. It makes us question whether we are going mad. It gives us sensations that we don’t understand and makes us think that the only possible reason we are feeling those things is because something has gone terribly and irreversibly haywire.

Heartbreak

In virtue of our human finitude, heartbreak is built into our caring engagement in the world.

Four Quick Videos On Anticipatory Anxiety And Fear of Flying

A vicious cycle can hold you captive in a state of anticipatory anxiety. The thought of your plane crashing - or of having a panic attack - can trigger the release of stress hormones. Once released, these hormones keep your thinking locked on those thoughts, which, in turn, trigger even more stress hormones. How can you break out of this vicious cycle?

Perfectionism and Trichotillomania, Like Oil and Water

Striving for perfection but pulling your hair

Clark Strand: Are you addicted to light?

By Jennifer Haupt on May 21, 2015 in One True Thing
Waking up to the dark was viewed as a nightly blessing before the introduction of artificial light. That restless dread so many of us feel in the middle of the night is a byproduct of our artificially lengthened days and the amount of wattage we've taken in through information, advertising, news alerts, and actual light.

Cause and Effect in Wine Drinkers’ Health

We think we know what causes what. But research shows we are greatly mistaken, and often confuse correlation with cause.

Understanding Nomophobia: Just Something Else to Worry About

My appreciation of the connection and conveniences offered by my smartphone might qualify as a pathology. That’s right folks, according to a recent study, I may have a disorder called nomophobia, which means that I get anxious, fearful and stressed out if and when I’m unable to access or use my smartphone.

How Can We Get Relief With "Mad Men" Ending?

In Mad Men’s season six finale, Don Draper asks, “What is happiness?” He then answers, “It’s a moment before you need more happiness.” Substitute happiness for relief—or, perhaps, merely mistake relief for happiness, or satisfaction, or fulfillment—and you have yourself at the very eye of the hurricane of the whole irrelationship song-and-dance routine. Goodbye, Don.

Irrelationship Is Not Codependency

Codependency may sometimes dovetail with irrelationship to the point that they’re not easily distinguishable. They may sometimes seem like kissing cousins, but at the level of purpose and of points of origin, they’re decidedly not identical twins.

10 Tips for Easing the Stress of Transition and Change

By Ann Smith on May 19, 2015 in Healthy Connections
Some changes in life are forced on us. Aging is one. Other changes are the result of choices we make to better our lives or accomplish goals we have set. Either way, change is challenging and we always have a choice about how we will handle the transition.

On the Nature of Creepiness

Given how frequently creepiness gets discussed in everyday life, it is amazing that it has not yet been studied in a scientific way. What I found in an exploratory study suggests that creepiness is a response to the ambiguity of threat; it is not the clear presence of danger that creeps us out, but rather the uncertainty of whether danger is present or not.

Let’s Release Our Youth From the College Anxiety Epidemic

I have clients in 2nd grade telling me they going to Stanford or UC Berkeley. I listen to high school students who have GPAs of 4.2 or 4.6 tell me how stressed, anxious, and depressed they are and weary of their future. I talk to parents daily about their worries that their child is not going to get into a "good” school. There is a place—or several—for every student.

Anxious? Your Body May Be Trying to Tell You Something

Many people try to ignore, deny, or suppress their emotions. As an emotional energy builds within, they are unable to identify its source. The result? Anxiety. The cure? Increasing self-awareness and affect tolerance.

Not Sure if You Should Take Medication?

Many women wonder why we don’t just prescribe hormone replacements if part of the problem may be their hormones.

Lubitz Likely Practiced Mass Murder by Airplane

By Kathryn Seifert on May 18, 2015 in Stop The Cycle
New details are still emerging about the Germanwings plane crash in the Alps in March of this year. Many are focused on the fact that co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had been diagnosed with a mental illness as being his major risk factor for suicide and mass murder. Mental illness alone is NOT a risk factor for violence or mass murder.

Be Very Afraid: Uncertainty, Fear, and Achievement

Adventure is defined by uncertain outcome. The most significant moments of our lives, the most important decisions and the most meaningful choices are characterized, in part, by uncertainty and by fear. Without uncertainty we have a safe, contained, and predictable experience; we don’t have adventure.