Anxiety is characterized by excessive tension and worry. Unlike fear, it is persistent and future oriented. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, and panic disorder.
Anxiety falls under theMental Healthcategory.
Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association (APA), is an emotion characterized by apprehension and bodily symptoms of tension and the anticipation of impending danger. In anxiety disorders, the feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness are persistent and can be overwhelming. Moreover, the intensity of these feelings can increase over time and interfere with normal daily activities.
The main signs and symptoms of anxiety include:
- Behavior changes, such as avoiding previously normal activities
- Anxious thoughts or beliefs that are hard to control and do not go away or improve over time
- Pounding or rapid heartbeat
- Aches and pains
- Shortness of breath
Anxiety is diagnosed through a psychological evaluation performed by a clinician. The psychological evaluation is typically based on diagnostic criteria set by a publication such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; used in the U.S) or the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD; used by the World Health Organization).
Antianxiety medications like beta-blockers and antidepressants are commonly used either alone or in conjunction with therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) works well for many anxiety disorders, especially in combination with medications.
While they are not a cure-all, supplements such as magnesium, lavender, kava, saffron, ashwagandha, and inositol have good evidence supporting their use for dampening anxiety severity to a moderate extent.
Some evidence shows that meditation can reduce anxiety symptoms, particularly among anxious individuals without diagnosed disorders. High-intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training may be effective for treating anxiety disorders. Additionally, binauralbeats and cannabidiol have both been studied for anxiety-related outcomes and seem to provide modest benefits.
The causes of anxiety disorders are complex, and risk factors can differ by the type of anxiety (e.g., separation anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic). Genetics, environment, and brain biology can all play a role. Generally speaking, exposure to traumatic or highly stressful events, a family history of anxiety disorders, certain health conditions (e.g., thyroid dysfunction, arrhythmias), and certain personality traits (e.g., excessive shyness) are all associated with an increased risk of having anxiety.
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- ^The content of this page was partially adapted from MedlinePlus of the National Library of Medicine
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