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What is Anxiety Disorder?

There are a lot of stigmas surrounding anxiety, especially in the United States. So let's discuss Anxiety in this blog to break that stigma.


Experiencing anxiety on an occasional basis is a normal part of life. However, having a frequent, persistent feeling of intense, excessive worry and fear about everyday situations may indicate an anxiety disorder.

These feelings of anxiety and panic are extreme, last for longer than six months, are difficult to control, and interfere with daily activities. They may even lead to avoiding people, places, or situations to prevent these feelings.

What causes Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age.

The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. However, it is likely a combination of factors that cause anxiety disorder. These include genetics, environmental factors, circumstances, and brain chemistry.

Research shows that brain chemistry in the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear may be impacted and may influence the risk of anxiety disorder.

anxious girl sitting on the floor

Risk factors for the different types of anxiety disorders can vary. These include:

  • Gender: According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Phobias are more common in women, but social anxiety affects men and women equally.

  • Personality: People with some personality traits such as being withdrawn in new situations or while meeting new people can be more likely to have anxiety.

  • Family History: Having a blood relative with a history of anxiety or other mental disorders can raise the risk of anxiety.

  • Trauma: Certain traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood such as violence, abuse, and neglect can increase the risk of anxiety.

  • Stress: A buildup of stress due to many small troubling events or one big life-changing event such as the death of a loved one or having a serious health condition can trigger anxiety.

  • Substance Abuse: Drug or alcohol use, misuse, or withdrawal can cause or worsen anxiety.

  • Medical Condition: Some physical health ailments, such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, heart problems, or arrhythmia can increase the risk of anxiety.

  • Other mental health disorders:. People with other mental health disorders, such as depression, often also have an anxiety disorder.

Types of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), specific phobias, separation anxiety disorder, and more. Since anxiety often accompanies other mental health disorders, it can also be:

  • Panic Disorder: experiencing recurring panic attacks at unexpected times.

  • Phobia: excessive fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations

  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: recurring irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific, repeated behaviors

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: fear of being away from home or loved ones

  • Illness Anxiety Disorder: anxiety about your health or a medical condition that needs treatment (formerly called hypochondria)

  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): anxiety following a traumatic event

You can have more than one anxiety disorder.

What are Anxiety Symptoms?

Anxiety symptoms can vary from person to person. People with anxiety often feel out of control. Symptoms include:

  • Increased heart rate

  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation) or shortness of breath

  • Restlessness or nervousness

  • Trouble concentrating

  • Difficulty falling asleep

  • Uneasiness or feeling worried

  • Having a sense of impending danger, panic, or doom

  • Sweating

  • Trembling

  • Dizziness or feeling faint

  • Unexplained aches and pains

  • Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems

  • Feeling weak or tired

  • Getting the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety - change in behavior

Symptoms may start during childhood or the teen years and continue into adulthood. Intake of caffeine, alcohol, or other substances, and certain medicines often worsen symptoms.

While anxious thoughts that are hard to control are common, anxiety symptoms can be totally different for different people. Thus, it is important to know all the signs of anxiety.

an anxious woman peeking out from her wooden window

What is an Anxiety Attack?

An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming fear, worry, distress, or nervousness. For some people, an anxiety attack builds slowly and can worsen as a stressful event approaches.

How to deal with Anxiety?

Anxiety disorder can be treated with medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or a combination of both. Medication usually involves antidepressants, while CBT or talk therapy involves psychological counseling to cope with anxiety.


There are several exercises and actions to help a person cope with milder, more focused, or shorter-term anxiety disorders. These natural treatments consist of taking care of one’s body, by engaging in healthy activities such as exercising, staying active, eating healthy, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, quitting smoking cigarettes, getting enough sleep, and meditating.

Relaxation and Stress Management techniques can drastically help to cope with anxiety. Learning to manage stress can help limit potential triggers. Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and other calming exercises can soothe both mental and physical signs of anxiety.

Meditation and mindfulness can not only help to calm the mind and slow down racing thoughts but also help replace negative thoughts with positive ones.


In some cases, a person can treat an anxiety disorder at home without clinical supervision. However, this may not be effective for severe or long-term anxiety disorders.

Meeting with a therapist, psychologist or a mental health professional can help you learn ways to cope with anxiety. Consult a doctor if your fear, worry, or anxiety is upsetting to you, interfering with your work or relationships, and is difficult to control.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, feelings or behaviors — seek emergency treatment immediately.

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