Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person's ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

Symptoms of anxiety may include a sense of intense worry or fear. Some people describe it as being “unable to turn off” their thoughts. Some have physical symptoms when they think about or get close to a source of anxiety, such as a racing pulse, breathing quickly, crying, or feeling sick to their stomach. Anxiety may be accompanied by symptoms of depression. Anxiety can take a number of different forms, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, post traumatic stress, agoraphobia and other phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.

Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment right away.

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