Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous.
But if your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.
What are anxiety disorders?
It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary anxiety is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.
In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.
This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Other ways people experience anxiety include
nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.
Symptoms of general anxiety include
Your anxiety symptoms might be totally different from someone else’s. That’s why it’s important to know all the ways anxiety can present itself. Read about the many types of anxiety symptoms you might experience
What is an anxiety attack?
An anxiety attack is a feeling of overwhelming apprehension, worry, distress, or fear. For many people, an anxiety attack builds slowly. It may worsen as a stressful event approaches.
Anxiety attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. That’s because the many symptoms of anxiety don’t happen to everyone, and they can change over time.
Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:
A panic attack and an anxiety attack share some common symptoms, but they’re not the same. Learn more about each so you can decide if your symptoms are the result of either.
What are treatments for anxiety?
Once you’ve been diagnosed with anxiety, you can to explore treatment options with your doctor. For some people, medical treatment isn’t necessary. Lifestyle changes may be enough to cope with the symptoms.
In moderate or severe cases, however, treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.
Treatment for anxiety falls into two categories:
psychotherapy and medication. Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with anxiety when it occurs.
The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you need help finding a mental health specialist.
Medications typically used to treat anxiety include
antidepressants and sedatives. They work to balance brain chemistry, prevent episodes of anxiety, and ward off the most severe symptoms of the disorder. Read more about anxiety medicines and the benefits and advantages of each type