Discover What Anxiety Really Is


Story at-a-glance

  • Mild anxiety that can be quite vague and unsettling or severe anxiety that can significantly impair a person’s daily routine may arise among people with anxiety disorders
  • Alcohol, nicotine and other drugs — these are some of the substances that patients with anxiety disorder may be addicted to

The word "anxiety" is often associated with feelings of nervousness that arise because of challenging or potentially life-changing events. Experiencing these emotions is considered normal, since everyone has their own burdens to bear and own reaction patterns to these situations.1

However, if these feelings persist even after the event is over, or if they impair a person's ability to sleep or function,2 this could be a sign of a potentially devastating condition. Clearly, there is more to anxiety than just having a nervous and apprehensive state of mind.

Clearing the Air on the True Definition of Anxiety

Anxiety is actually a general term for conditions that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying in a person. Unlike instances of concern that may arise because of a particular event, anxiety happens when the resulting reaction is out of proportion to the expected feedback of a situation.3

Furthermore, anxiety is a mental illness that affects how people feel and behave. Mild anxiety that can be quite vague and unsettling or severe anxiety that can significantly impair a person's daily routine may arise among people with anxiety disorders.4

Meanwhile, some patients may experience these physical and emotional symptoms too:5

Anxiety can occur because of a variety of factors, such as:6

Stress from personal relationships, marriage, friendships or divorce

Stress from work or school

Stress due to finances

Stress because of a natural disaster

Trauma from events like abuse, victimization or the death of a loved one

Genetics,7 although more studies have to be done to confirm if anxiety is hereditary

Anxiety Can Be Further Divided Into Different Disorders

Virtually anyone of any age or gender can be affected with an anxiety disorder. The most prevalent types of these diseases include:8

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Panic Disorders


Social Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Separation Anxiety Disorder

Why Anxiety Disorders Should Be Taken Seriously

Although there's now more research on anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses compared to recent years, the stigma that people with these diseases have to face is still disheartening.

According to the Mental Health Foundation of the U.K., those affected with mental health illnesses are perceived as violent and dangerous, when in fact, people with these disorders are actually more prone to being attacked or harming themselves. The media doesn't help either, often framing people with mental illnesses as dangerous criminals or very disabled people that are unable to have normal and fulfilled lives.9

Time to Change also notes that people with anxiety disorders may lose friendships, experience isolation and exclusion from activities, have difficulties in getting and retaining a job, undergo challenges in finding help and may recover slowly.10 Apart from these negative impacts on their daily lives, people with anxiety disorders are also more prone to the following complications:11,12

As a result, people who already have ADHD may experience worsened symptoms, while those who don't have it may significantly increase their risk for the disorder.


Anxiety: Introduction

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety vs Panic Attacks

Anxiety in Children

Anxiety During Pregnancy

Anxiety Duration

Anxiety Causes

Anxiety Types

Anxiety Symptoms

Anxiety Treatment

Anxiety Prevention

Anxiety Diet

Anxiety Support Groups

Anxiety FAQ


Anxiety: Introduction


Anxiety vs Panic Attacks

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 “Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments,” Medical News Today
  • 5 Smith, Robinson and Segal, “Anxiety Disorders and Anxiety Attacks,” HelpGuide, September 2016
  • 6 Crosta, “What Causes Anxiety?” Medical News Today, August 3, 2015
  • 7 Vann and Jones, “Is Anxiety Hereditary?” Everyday Health, August 24, 2015
  • 9 “Stigma and Discrimination,” Mental Health Foundation
  • 10 “Anxiety Disorders,” Time to Change
  • 11 Healthline Editorial Team and Spriggs, “What Are the Complications of Anxiety?” Healthline, May 16, 2016
  • 12 Tartakovsky, “When ADHD and Anxiety Occur Together,” PsychCentral