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Anxiety: Introduction

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear or trepidation. Mild, moderate or occasional, short-term severe anxiety is a normal reaction to stressors in daily life. Although anxiety can be unpleasant, it is a normal reaction to an environmental stressor, and a mild to moderate amount of anxiety can help people to recognize and more effectively deal with stressful situations, such as starting a new job or passing an exam. Anxiety can also be experienced without any stimulus at all or due to a perceived stressor that may not exist, such as when a child is afraid of a monster in the closet.

Anxiety can also be a symptom of a wide range of medical and mental health conditions, such as drug addiction, Alzheimer's disease, hyperthyroidism, hypertension, psychosis, and hypoxia.

If anxiety is at an extreme level or becomes recurring or continuous, it may be due to or can develop into a mental health condition, called an anxiety disorder. Common anxiety disorders include panic disorder, in which a person feels a crippling sense of panic. Agoraphobia is excessive anxiety that occurs when a person is in open spaces or public places. People with obsessive compulsive disorder try to reduce their anxieties through ritual and repeated behaviors.

Post traumatic stress disorder occurs after a traumatizing event and is characterized by flashbacks of the terrifying event. A persistent fear of public social situations is called social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder manifests as excessive worry and anxiety that is out of proportion to the actual situation.

Anxiety can manifest in one's mood, behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Symptoms of anxiety can be mild to severe. Mild symptoms include a slight elevation in heart rate and increased alertness. More severe symptoms can include severe feelings of panic, palpitations, chest pain, and shortness of breath. For more information on symptoms, refer to symptoms of anxiety.

Making a diagnosis of the underlying cause of excessive anxiety begins with taking a thorough medical and psychiatric history, including symptoms, and completing a complete physical examination and a mental health exam. Tests are performed that can detect medical causes of anxiety, such as hyperthyroidism, hypoxia, and hypertension. A referral to a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health provider is often made to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety related to an anxiety disorder or other mental health condition.

It is possible that a diagnosis of anxiety or an anxiety disorder can be missed or delayed because symptoms can be vague, associated with other conditions, or because of the stigma associated with mental illness. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of anxiety.

Treatment of anxiety varies depending on the underlying cause, the severity, and a person's medical history, age, and general health. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of anxiety. ...more »

Anxiety: Anxiety is the experience of having worry, fear, or feelings of trepidation. Mild to moderate or occasion severe feelings of anxiety are normal reactions to stressors in daily life. Anxiety can manifest in one's mood, behavior, thoughts, and emotions. Although the experience of anxiety can be unpleasant, a normal amount of anxiety can serve to help people to recognize and more effectively deal with stressful situations, such as starting a new job or moving across the country.

Anxiety can also be experienced without any stimulus at all or due to a perceived stressor that may not exist, such as a child who is afraid of a monster in the closet at night or a straight-A student who worries about getting a failing grade. If anxiety rises to excessive levels or becomes recurring or continuous, it can develop into a mental health condition, called anxiety disorder. There are many types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are multifaceted and can be difficult to recognize and differentiate from other medical conditions because they present with a wide variety of manifestations. Anxiety can also be a symptom of many medical conditions in addition to anxiety disorder. ...more »

Anxiety: Symptoms

The symptoms of anxiety are due to the body's reaction to stress called the fright, fight or flight response. This reaction developed in early human evolution as a means to increase alertness and readiness to react to dangerous stressors, such as the threat of a man-eating predator. When confronted with a stressor, the body's nervous system reacts by releasing the chemical epinephrine, ...more symptoms »

Anxiety: Treatments

The first step to addressing excessive anxiety is to diagnose and treat any underlying medical conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and hypoxia.

There are many ways to reduce, even eliminate the symptoms of anxiety that are not caused by an untreated medical condition. The most effective strategy is to address anxiety in a variety of ways. Taking inventory of stressors and ...more treatments »

Anxiety: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of the underlying cause of excessive anxiety may be missed or delayed for a variety of reasons. For example, people with an anxiety disorder may fear the stigma of or be embarrassed by mental illness and not seek treatment. People with chronic hypoxia due to COPD may become confused and unaware of their condition.

A diagnosis of excessive anxiety or ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Anxiety

Treatments for Anxiety

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Anxiety:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Anxiety?

Anxiety: Related Patient Stories

Alternative Treatments for Anxiety

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Anxiety may include:

Anxiety: Complications

Read more about complications of Anxiety.

Causes of Anxiety

More information about causes of Anxiety:

Anxiety: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Anxiety

High rate of misdiagnosis of psychiatric disorders: The book "Preventing Misdiagnosis of Women" reports on studies that estimate that 41% to 83% of people who are treated for psychiatric disorders, more »

Various mental health symptoms caused by rare epilepsy: Temporal lobe epilepsy is a less common form of epilepsy that does not have more »

Common asymptomatic heart disorder can cause anxiety-like conditions: Anxiety symptoms may be due to heart disorder - There is a reasonably common heart disorder called more »

Rare neurological disorder misdiagnosed as anxiety condition: Posterolateral sclerosis is an uncommon neurological disorder that can be misdiagnosed as more »

Rare copper disease insidious and misdiagnosed: Wilson's disease (a form of copper overload) is a rare disorder that has a slow and insidious onset that can often fail to be diagnosed. Copper builds up in the liver and in the more »

Rare cancer hidden cause of panic symptoms: The rare cancer pheochromocytoma, an adrenal tumor, can initially have symptoms similar to panic disorder. Its symptoms may include more »

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden inability to speak. This was initially misdiagnosed as a more »

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a more »

ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults can remain undiagnosed, more »

Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians. Many patients with bipolar seek help more »

Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to more »

Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression to be overlooked. See misdiagnosis of more »

Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety disorders). Failure more »

Anxiety: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Anxiety

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Anxiety:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Anxiety, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Anxiety: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Research about Anxiety

Visit our research pages for current research about Anxiety treatments.

Anxiety: Broader Related Topics

Anxiety Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Anxiety, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Anxiety:

A relatively permanent state of anxiety occurring in a variety of mental disorders - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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