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

“The Noise in Your Head” Video Series

By Reid Wilson Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in All about Anxiety
Follow a young woman who struggles with anxiety & applies treatment principles to her everyday life. She engages Anxiety in a competition to win her life back.

What NOT to Do When You Discover Your Partner Is Cheating

Here are 5 ways to NOT react when you discover your partner is cheating on you.

8 Tips for Tackling Political Stress Now

By Andrea Bonior Ph.D. on February 22, 2017 in Friendship 2.0
Many people are feeling an unprecedented amount of stress in the current political climate. Want to stay active and informed without getting burned out? Here's where to start.

Feeling Stuck, Lost or Overwhelmed? There is Hope

By Leslie Becker-Phelps Ph.D. on February 21, 2017 in Making Change
Some people are better at managing life’s many challenges. You can learn to be one of those people by developing your ability to mentalize.

Could Thinking Positively Be Dangerous Right Now?

Have you started opening the newspapers each day with a sense of dread and disbelief about that latest actions of President Trump and his administration?
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Staying Centered and Calm in an Anxiety-Ridden World

Try these calming techniques to become more powerful when it seems that anxiety has you in its grip and you can’t release yourself.

Americans Just Broke a New Record for Stress and Anxiety!

In January 2017, for the first time, the American Psychological Association's Stress in America survey found a statistically significant increase in stress and anxiety in America.

The Most Basic Way We Regulate Our Feelings

By Tom Bunn L.C.S.W. on February 19, 2017 in Conquer Fear Of Flying
We can't use our own two feet inside a car. But anxiety does not develop. The ground is immediately accessible. Imagination of a plane crash is the opposite.

Treating Anxiety Without Using Prescription Medications

Are you struggling with anxiety and not getting relief from a medication? Natural supplements, mind-body approaches and other alternative therapies can make a difference.

Want to Be Less of a Perfectionist? (Try To) Do This 1 Thing

By Andy Molinsky Ph.D. on February 18, 2017 in Adaptation
Want to Be Less of a Perfectionist? (Try To) Do This 1 Thing

Deep Memories of Insects

By Jeffrey Lockwood Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in The Infested Mind
What creatures infest the dark recesses of the mind?

Self-Driving Cars and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

By James F. Zender Ph.D. on February 17, 2017 in The New Normal
The fear of self-driving cars.

Evidence Mounts That Yoga Improves Sex

By Michael Castleman M.A. on February 15, 2017 in All About Sex
Adding to a growing research literature, a recent Korean study shows that yoga improves sex for women.

6 Reasons Why You May Not Know What You're Feeling

By Leon F Seltzer Ph.D. on February 15, 2017 in Evolution of the Self
It might seem almost unfathomable that someone might not be able to recognize what they’re feeling. But the phenomenon is much more common than most people realize.

Addicted to Your Kid? Narcissism, Fear and Parenting

By Meredith Resnick L.C.S.W. on February 13, 2017 in Adoption Stories
It's possible for people to be addicted to other people—including their children.

Emotional Trauma, Context, Authenticity

Emotional trauma discloses painful truths about our existential vulnerabilities.

Seeking Success and Patrolling Failure

By Rob Henderson on February 13, 2017 in After Service
What can sleeplessness, stress, and sexist attitudes tell us about how our minds work?

Can We Really Have a Happy Valentine's Day This Year?

By Tamar Chansky Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in Worry Wise
Even in a crisis, even in an emergency, we work in shifts. Some of us always need to be on love duty. We need to put the oxygen masks on our relationships first.

The Danger of Confronting the Family Member Who Hurt You

The more serious the harm, the less likely that the person who hurt you will ever get it.

Growing Old Gratefully

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on February 12, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
Growing old, what can and cannot be done; and what should and should not be done.

How Exercise Reduces Depression, Anxiety, Cynicism, & Anger

By Matthew MacKinnon MD on February 12, 2017 in Neuraptitude
Exercise may be on par with antidepressants and psychotherapy in the treatment of depression; it even benefits non-pathological mental states as well as reduces mortality.
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Handling Messy Breakups

By Robert Taibbi L.C.S.W. on February 11, 2017 in Fixing Families
Sometimes, in spite of your best efforts, the ending of a relationship creates a new crisis on both sides.
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Six Reasons Why Individuals Choose Suicide

Have you been affected by a suicide this year?
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Depression: A Psychiatrist Suggests Peanut Butter, Chocolate

By Monica N. Starkman M.D. on February 10, 2017 in On Call
Can peanut butter and dark chocolate help relieve depression?
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A Survival Guide for Uncertain Times #3: Positive Thinking?

By Allison Carmen on February 10, 2017 in The Gift of Maybe
Giving up positive thinking and embracing the mindset of Maybe can be the key to finding strength and resilience in uncertain times.
businessinsider.com

Coping With Trump Anxiety

By Jeremy Clyman Psy.D. on February 09, 2017 in Co-Parent Problems
Concrete steps for managing a new and significant stressor in American life.

New Research Finds Mindfulness Reduces Worry

By Marlynn Wei M.D., J.D. on February 09, 2017 in Urban Survival
What mindfulness exercise helps with persistent worry and negative thoughts? Research suggest you try this technique to reduce how much you worry.

Living With Loneliness

By Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. on February 09, 2017 in Anxiety Files
Being alone doesn't mean that you have to feel miserable and lonely. Develop a strategy to cope with your feelings of loneliness and free yourself up to live independently.

Number One Reason SSRIs Take Four to Six Weeks to Work

It is peculiar that the common antidepressants SSRIs do not kick in for a long time. There is, however, a good scientific explanation of why they do not.