Last Updated: August 16, 2022

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.

What is anxiety?

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.[1] 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.

What are the main signs and symptoms of anxiety?

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
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
How is anxiety diagnosed?

Anxiety is diagnosed through a psychological evaluation performed by a clinician.[1] 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).

What are some of the main medical treatments for anxiety?

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.[1]

Have any supplements been studied for anxiety?

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.

How could diet affect anxiety?

Compared to typically less-healthy diets such as the Western diet, the mediterranean-diet and vegan have some evidence for their ability to improve mood, although more research is necessary to confirm this effect and whether it extends to anxiety relief.[2]

Are there any other treatments for anxiety?

Some evidence shows that meditation can reduce anxiety symptoms,[3] particularly among anxious individuals without diagnosed disorders.[4] High-intensity aerobic exercise and resistance training may be effective for treating anxiety disorders.[5][6] Additionally, binauralbeats and cannabidiol have both been studied for anxiety-related outcomes and seem to provide modest benefits.

What causes anxiety?

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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  1. ^The content of this page was partially adapted from MedlinePlus of the National Library of Medicine
  2. ^Joseph Firth, James E Gangwisch, Alessandra Borisini, Robyn E Wootton, Emeran A MayerFood and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?BMJ.(2020 Jun 29)
  3. ^Blanck P, Perleth S, Heidenreich T, Kröger P, Ditzen B, Bents H, Mander JEffects of mindfulness exercises as stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: Systematic review and meta-analysisBehav Res Ther.(2018 Mar)
  4. ^Chen KW, Berger CC, Manheimer E, Forde D, Magidson J, Dachman L, Lejuez CWMeditative therapies for reducing anxiety: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trialsDepress Anxiety.(2012 Jul)
  5. ^Aylett E, Small N, Bower PExercise in the treatment of clinical anxiety in general practice - a systematic review and meta-analysisBMC Health Serv Res.(2018 Jul 16)
  6. ^LeBouthillier DM, Asmundson GJGThe efficacy of aerobic exercise and resistance training as transdiagnostic interventions for anxiety-related disorders and constructs: A randomized controlled trialJ Anxiety Disord.(2017 Dec)
  7. ^H Woelk, S SchläfkeA multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorderPhytomedicine.(2010 Feb)
  8. ^Lakhan SE, Vieira KFNutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic reviewNutr J.(2010 Oct 7)
  9. ^Saeed SA, Bloch RM, Antonacci DJHerbal and dietary supplements for treatment of anxiety disordersAm Fam Physician.(2007 Aug 15)
  10. ^Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye LThe Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic ReviewNutrients.(2017 Apr 26)
  11. ^Wipfli BM, Rethorst CD, Landers DMThe anxiolytic effects of exercise: a meta-analysis of randomized trials and dose-response analysisJ Sport Exerc Psychol.(2008 Aug)
  12. ^Bibeau WS, Moore JB, Mitchell NG, Vargas-Tonsing T, Bartholomew JBEffects of acute resistance training of different intensities and rest periods on anxiety and affectJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Aug)
  13. ^Broman-Fulks JJ, Berman ME, Rabian BA, Webster MJEffects of aerobic exercise on anxiety sensitivityBehav Res Ther.(2004 Feb)
  14. ^Stein JM, Papp LA, Klein DF, Cohen S, Simon J, Ross D, Martinez J, Gorman JMExercise tolerance in panic disorder patientsBiol Psychiatry.(1992 Aug 1)
  15. ^Broocks A, Meyer TF, Bandelow B, George A, Bartmann U, Rüther E, Hillmer-Vogel UExercise avoidance and impaired endurance capacity in patients with panic disorderNeuropsychobiology.(1997)
  16. ^Esmaily H, Sahebkar A, Iranshahi M, Ganjali S, Mohammadi A, Ferns G, Ghayour-Mobarhan MAn investigation of the effects of curcumin on anxiety and depression in obese individuals: A randomized controlled trialChin J Integr Med.(2015 May)
Examine Database References
  1. Cortisol - Pirbudak L, Balat O, Cekmen M, Ugur MG, Aygün S, Oner UEffect of ascorbic acid on surgical stress response in gynecologic surgeryInt J Clin Pract.(2004 Oct)
  2. Cortisol - K Chandrasekhar, Jyoti Kapoor, Sridhar AnishettyA prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of