Anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and uneasiness. It might cause you to sweat, feel restless and tense, and have a rapid heartbeat. It can be a normal reaction to stress. For example, you might feel anxious when faced with a difficult problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. It can help you to cope. The anxiety may give you a boost of energy or help you focus. But for people with anxiety disorders, the fear is not temporary and can be overwhelming.
What are anxiety disorders?
Anxiety disorders are conditions in which you have anxiety that does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.
What are the types of anxiety disorders?
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).People with GAD worry about ordinary issues such as health, money, work, and family. But their worries are excessive, and they have them almost every day for at least 6 months.
Panic disorder. People with panic disorder have panic attacks. These are sudden, repeated periods of intense fear when there is no danger. The attacks come on quickly and can last several minutes or more.
Phobias. People with phobias have an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Their fear may be about spiders, flying, going to crowded places, or being in social situations (known as social anxiety).
What causes anxiety disorders?
The cause of anxiety is unknown. Factors such as genetics, brain biology and chemistry, stress, and your environment may play a role.
Who is at risk for anxiety disorders?
The risk factors for the different types of anxiety disorders can vary. For example, GAD and phobias are more common in women, but social anxiety affects men and women equally. There are some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders, including:
Certain personality traits, such as being shy or withdrawn when you are in new situations or meeting new people
Traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood
Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or arrhythmia
What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?
The different types of anxiety disorders can have different symptoms. But they all have a combination of:
Anxious thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control. They make you feel restless and tense and interfere with your daily life. They do not go away and can get worse over time.
Physical symptoms, such as a pounding or rapid heartbeat, unexplained aches and pains, dizziness, and shortness of breath
Changes in behavior, such as avoiding everyday activities you used to do
Using caffeine, other substances, and certain medicines can make your symptoms worse.
How are anxiety disorders diagnosed?
To diagnose anxiety disorders, your health care provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You may also have a physical exam and lab tests to make sure that a different health problem is not the cause of your symptoms.
If you don’t have another health problem, you will get a psychological evaluation. Your provider may do it, or you may be referred to a mental health professional to get one.
What are the treatments for anxiety disorders?
The main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy (talk therapy), medicines, or both:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is often used to treat anxiety disorders. CBT teaches you different ways of thinking and behaving. It can help you change how you react to the things that cause you to feel fear and anxiety. It may include exposure therapy. This focuses on having you confront your fears so that you will be able to do the things that you had been avoiding.
Medicines to treat anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety medicines and certain antidepressants. Some types of medicines may work better for specific types of anxiety disorders. You should work closely with your health care provider to identify which medicine is best for you. You may need to try more than one medicine before you can find the right one.
What are the types of anxiety disorders?
Anxiety is a vital part of several different disorders. These include:
Panic disorder. This means you experience recurring panic attacks at unexpected times.
Phobia. This is an excessive fear of a specific object, situation, or activity.
Social anxiety disorder. This is an extreme fear of being judged by others in social situations.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder. This means you have recurring irrational thoughts that lead you to perform specific, repeated behaviors.
Separation anxiety disorder. This means you have a fear of being away from home or your loved ones.
Illness anxiety disorder. This is anxiety about your health (formerly called hypochondria).
In addition, a number of mental health and medical conditions may feature anxiety as a symptom. These include:
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is anxiety following a traumatic event.
Major depressive disorders. A strong relationship exists between depression and anxiety.
Chronic disease. Managing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and diabetes may result in anxiety symptoms.
Inflammatory conditions. Anxiety can lead to chronic inflammation and diseases such as arthritis
Substance use disorders: many people with anxiety may try to self-medicate to help manage their symptoms.
Chronic pain. Anxiety is often foundTrusted Source in those with chronic pain disorders.
What are the symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.
You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event. In some cases, you may experience a panic attack.
SymptomsTrusted Source of anxiety can include:
anxious thoughts or beliefs that are difficult to control
difficulty falling asleep
unexplained aches and pains
Your anxiety symptoms might be different from someone else’s. That’s why it’s essential to know how anxiety can present itself. Read about the many types of anxiety symptoms you might experience.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is a feeling of intense fear that comes on suddenly and peaks within 10 to 20 minutes. The initial trigger of the fear can be known or unknown.
The physical symptoms can mimic a heart attack. Once you’re experiencing a panic attack, the symptoms may get worse if you believe you may be having a heart attack or having a mental health emergency. Another common fear that may exacerbate a panic attack is the fear that you might be judged negatively if you’re having an attack in public.
Panic attacks can vary greatly, and symptoms may differ among individuals. In addition, the many symptoms of anxiety don’t happen to everyone, and they can change over time.
Common symptomsTrusted Source of a panic attack include:
feeling of choking
fear of losing control
feeling of impending doom
sweating, chills, and hot flashes
numbness and tingling of hands, feet, or face
nausea or upset stomach
shortness of breath
fear of dying
When you experience repeated panic or anxiety attacks, you may have a panic disorder.
What causes anxiety?
Experts aren’t sure of the exact cause of anxiety. But it’s likely that a combination of factors play a role.
The causes of anxiety may include:
other medical issues such as depression or diabetes
first degree relatives with generalized anxiety disorder
environmental concerns, such as child abuse
situations such as surgery or occupational hazard
In addition, researchers believe that it stems from the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear and the storing and retrieval of emotional and fear-related memories.
Who is at risk of anxiety disorders?
With each type of anxiety, there are different risk factors. But there are some general influencesTrusted Source, including:
Personality traits. This includes shyness and nervousness in childhood.
Life history. This includes being exposed to negative or stressful live events.
Genetics. Of those who have a diagnosis of anxiety, 25 percentTrusted Source have a first degree relative who also has a diagnosis of anxiety.
Other health conditions. Thyroid problems and other health conditions can make you prone to anxiety.
Stimulants. Consuming caffeineTrusted Source, specific substances, and medications can worsen your symptoms.
Are there tests that diagnose anxiety?
A single test can’t diagnose anxiety. Instead, an anxiety diagnosis requires a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health tests, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors or healthcare professionals may conduct a physical exam, including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to help a doctor assess the level of anxiety you’re experiencing. Reach about each of these tests.
What are treatments for anxiety?
Once you’ve received a diagnosis of anxiety, you can explore treatment options with a doctor.
But treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.
Treatment for anxiety falls into three categories:
Psychotherapy. Therapy can include cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention.
Complemental health techniques. Mindfulness, yoga, and self-management strategies such as stress management are ways to treat your anxiety using alternative methods.
Medication. Doctors prescribe antianxiety and antidepressant drugs.
Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with stress when it occurs.
The Mental Health Resources page can provide tips on finding a psychiatrist, or a doctor who specializes in mental health, to fit your needs.
Medications typically used to treat anxiety include benzodiazepines for short-term symptom relief, but they’re avoided if possible due to the high risk of dependence. Other antianxiety or antidepressant medications such as escitalopram effectively alter your brain chemistry to improve mood and reduce stress.
Some other commonly used medications include:
Selective serotonin uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Escitalopram, fluoxetine, and paroxetine are common SSRIs.
Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). Duloxetine and venlafaxine are common SNRIs.
Antipsychotics. Quetiapine and aripiprazole are common antipsychotics.
Benzodiazepines. Diazepam and clonazepam are common benzodiazepines.
Anxiolytics. Buspirone is a common anxiolytic.
What natural remedies are used for anxiety?
Lifestyle changes can effectively relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body and participating in healthy activities while eliminating unhealthy ones.
getting enough sleep
staying active and exercising
eating a healthy diet
quitting smoking cigarettes if you smoke
If these lifestyle changes seem like a positive way to help you eliminate some anxiety, read about how each one works—plus, get more great ideas for treating anxiety.
Anxiety and depression
If you have an anxiety disorder, you may also be experiencing depression. While anxiety and depression can occur separately, it’s not unusual for mental health disorders to happen together.
Anxiety can be a symptom of clinical or major depression. Likewise, worsening symptoms of depression can become triggered by an anxiety disorder.
You can manage symptoms of both conditions with many of the same treatments: psychotherapy (counseling), medications, and lifestyle changes.
How to help children with anxiety
Anxiety in children is natural and expected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 9.4%Trusted Source of children and adolescents ages 3 to 17 have had a diagnosis of anxiety.
As children grow up, they should outgrow the worries and fears they felt when they were younger. It may be considered an anxiety disorder if they’re afraid to be away from their parents, exhibit extreme fear, and other anxiety symptoms that interfere with their day-to-day lives.
Anxiety in children can also become chronic and persistent, with uncontrolled anxiety leading them to avoid interacting with their peers or family members.
Symptoms of an anxiety disorderTrusted Source in children might include:
feelings of fear
Anxiety treatment for children includes cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy) and medications. Learn more about the symptoms of an anxiety disorder and techniques to help calm your child’s anxiety.
How to help teens with anxiety
Teenagers may have many reasons to be anxious. Tests, college visits, and first dates all pop up in these important years. But teenagers who feel anxious or experience anxiety symptoms frequently may have an anxiety disorder.
Symptoms of anxiety in teenagers may include nervousness, shyness, isolationist behaviors, and avoidance. Likewise, anxiety in teens may lead to unusual behaviors.
For example, they may act out, perform poorly in school, skip social events, and even engage in substance or alcohol use.
In some teens, depression may accompany anxiety. Diagnosing both conditions is essential so that their treatment can address the underlying issues and help relieve symptoms.
The most common treatments for anxiety in teenagers are talk therapy and medication. These treatments also help address depression symptoms.
Anxiety and stress
Stress and anxiety are related but different. Stress is a typical and healthy reaction to an identifiable event that’s making you nervous, such as an upcoming test, presentation, wedding, or other major change in your life.
Stress will go away once the trigger goes away. Anxiety, on the other hand, persists beyond any trigger and may exist without a known trigger. A person may need treatment for anxiety to go away.
Both anxiety and stress respond well to physical activity, good sleep hygiene, and a well-balanced diet. But if your anxiety and stress don’t respond well and you feel your day-to-day functioning is impaired, a mental health professional can help you determine a treatment plan.
Physical symptoms of anxiety
When you experience symptoms of anxiety, they can manifest as physical symptoms such as:
muscle aches and tensions
Neither stress nor anxiety is always bad. Both can provide you with a boost or incentive to accomplish the task or challenge before you. But if these feelings become persistent, they can begin to interfere with your daily life. In that case, it’s important to get treatment.
The long-term outlook for people with untreated depression and anxiety includes chronic health issues, such as heart disease. Learn why anxiety and stress occur and how you can manage the conditions.
Anxiety and alcohol
If you’re anxious frequently, you may decide you’d like a drink to calm your nerves. After all, alcohol is a sedative. In addition, it can depress the activity of your central nervous system, which may help you feel more relaxed.
Some people with anxiety disorders abuse alcohol or other drugs regularly to feel better, creating dependency and addiction.
It may be necessary to treat an alcohol or drug problem before doctors can address the anxiety. But chronic or long-term use can ultimately worsen the condition. Read more to understand how alcohol can worsen anxiety symptoms.
Can foods treat anxiety?
Doctors commonly use medication and talk therapy to treat anxiety. But lifestyle changes, such as getting enough sleep and regular exercise, can also help. In addition, some research suggests the foods you eat may have a beneficial impact on your brain if you frequently experience anxiety.
These foods include:
flax and chia seeds
fatty fish such as mackerel and salmon
Read more about how these foods can boost your brain health and lower your anxiety.
Children and teens
It’s not known why anxiety develops in children and teenagers. But there are excellent public health approaches that work to prevent the disorder, and they include:
youth violence prevention
child maltreatment prevention
mental health programs
As parents, you can communicate openly and honestly with your child while ensuring they’re making healthy decisions.
To learn more about how to support your child’s mental health, please check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) resource pageTrusted Source.
In addition, in cases of children and teens experiencing anxiety in response to something happening within their family or in their home, it’s a good idea to get family therapy. This is important especially because children and teens may not find it so easy to talk about their feelings or be aware of their anxiety.
There are many ways to prevent anxiety and its symptoms. Please see the below options:
Avoidance. Avoiding people, places, and situations can lessen your stress and anxiety. But this would be a short-term strategy. In the long term, it’s better if you get treatment so you no longer need to avoid a trigger.
Stress management and mindfulness. Practicing stress management and mindfulness prevents strain.
Restrict caffeine. Caffeine can worsen anxiety symptoms.
Support groups. Speaking with others is an opportunity to share coping strategies and experiences.
Therapy. Speaking with a therapist can help you develop more effective ways to cope with fears and stress that lead to anxiety.
Speak with a doctor about your medications. Regularly speaking with a doctor about your medications’ dosing, effectiveness, and side effects ensures any health condition is treated adequately and monitored for any possible anxiety-related side effects.
You can treat your anxiety with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two.
But some people who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and don’t get treatment.
Avoiding the trigger, however, can actually make anxiety worse in the long term. Treatment can help you overcome the need to avoid a trigger.
It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in severe cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.
Sources Internet, various health websites and Google search