Anxiety Disorders Overview

Anxiety is a normal human emotion/feeling that most people experience in response to a threat, event, or situation. These are called stressors. If you experience heightened or long-lasting responses to a stressor, you could have an anxiety disorder. 

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders 1 are a range of prevalent conditions caused by excessive worrying about future events or fear, apprehension, or avoidance of actual situations. Having an anxiety disorder means that you can experience these feelings without an immediate threat, have significant responses, and take longer to recover. 

Signs and Symptoms

Anxiety disorders often cause mental or emotional signs and symptoms. However, they can also manifest through physical complaints, distress, and conditions. When this happens, this is called somatization 2

  • Feelings of worry, fear, or dread 
  • A sense of impending worry
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Hyperfocus on the source of stress
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal and chest pain
  • Stomach problems
  • Sweating
  • Quick breathing 
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heartbeat

The Appearance of Anxiety Disorders

Several anxiety disorders emerge 3 in childhood, such as selective mutism and separation anxiety, while others manifest in adolescence and persist into early adulthood. 

Anxiety disorders are chronic mental health conditions. But, for some of you, anxiety disorders can be temporary. 

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders develop for several reasons. 

  • Genetics. Having a family history of anxiety disorders makes you three to five times more likely to have an anxiety disorder.
  • Death.
  • Negative Events. Events such as sexual violence, trauma, or injury is a risk factor for anxiety disorders. 
  • Financial Problems.
  • Chronic Illness. Having a high-burden chronic illness increases your risk of developing an anxiety disorder. 
  • Family Separation or Divorce

Types of Anxiety Disorders

It’s common for anxiety to co-occur with other anxiety and mental health disorders. However, you can have one anxiety disorder without another. 

  • Panic Attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Specific Phobias
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Selective Mutism