Anxiety-related disorders may cause your fear or worry to not go away and can get worse over time

Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. Anxiety disorders can affect how we feel and behave, and sometimes cause physical symptoms. Fear, stress and anxiety are normal feelings to experience, but are different than suffering from a diagnosable anxiety disorder.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety

  • A chronic, high level of anxiety may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive anxiety for at least six months.
  • Having a specific phobia means becoming anxious when exposed to a specific circumstance.
  • Social phobia is characterized by anxiety in social or performance situations.
  • A person with panic disorder experiences recurrent, unexpected panic attacks.
  • Agoraphobia involves anxiety about having panic attacks in difficult or embarrassing situations.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder entails obsessions, compulsions, or both.
  • Post–traumatic stress disorder is a set of psychological and physiological responses to a highly traumatic event.
  • Biological factors implicated in the onset of anxiety disorders include genes, different sensitivity to anxiety, the neurotransmitters GABA and serotonin, and brain damage.
  • Conditioning and learning may contribute to the development of phobias.
  • Some styles of thinking may make people more susceptible to anxiety disorders.

Short-Term Anxiety Disorders

Some types of anxiety disorders are short-term and often resolve themselves with the removal of a stressor over a short period of time (weeks to years).

Acute Stress Disorder – anxiety symptoms occur immediately following a trauma, but are short-lived.

Adjustment Disorder with Anxious Features – diagnosed when a person develops anxiety symptoms in relation to a major life-changing event – like getting married or moving to another city. Symptoms generally start within three months of the stressful event.

Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder – generally resolves when the substance is discontinued or when withdrawal from the substance is over.

Long-Term Anxiety Disorders

Other types of anxiety disorders develop and remain long-term. Many start in childhood and last long into adulthood, particularly if treatment has not been sought.

Agoraphobia – a fear of being in a public place where escape would be embarrassing or difficult.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – anxiety symptoms occur in multiple environments and due to multiple objects or situations. Anxiety symptoms may not have a known cause.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – anxiety symptoms are in the form of intrusive, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors (or mental acts).

Panic Disorder – consists of severe, immediate anxiety symptoms (a panic attack) due to a variety of causes, as well as the worry over having another panic attack.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – anxiety symptoms that occur after a trauma and are long-term in nature.

Social Anxiety Disorder – anxiety symptoms occur in social or performance situations and stem from the fear of being humiliated or embarrassed.

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