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What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety graphic representation

Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, fear, dread and uneasiness about a current event or a

future unknown situation. Many people worry about things such as money, health and

relationships. But anxiety disorders involves more than a temporary fear. Some people who

experience anxiety for a long period of time can develop anxiety disorders. Some common

anxiety disorders include panic attacks, agoraphobia, and many other that make it difficult for

those suffering from it to function in a normal, day-to-day setting (Adwas, Azab & Jbrieal, 2019).

It can start to impact people performance at work, relationships and schoolwork. (Department

of Health and Human Services, 2014).

Different Types of Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:


According to the National Institute of Mental Health (2014), Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

is when someone is constantly worrying about something, and they find it difficult to control it.

This usually occurs on most days for a period of 6 months or longer.

Panic Disorder

These are intense, overwhelming and often uncomfortable feelings of anxiety. Some people

may experience the following symptoms: trouble breathing, chest pain, dizziness, and fidgeting.

How people experience a panic attack can differ from person to person. Some people will get

nauseous and faint while others can experience chills and choking.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety is a very common disorder that has affected many people especially since the

COVID pandemic. Many people feel like they forgot how to socialize due to having to isolate

themselves from others for an extended period of time. Some of the situations that cause

people to experience anxiety include; public speaking, meeting new people, dating, going for a

job interview etc. These people tend to get uncomfortable when asked. One evidenced based

treatment approach that has been shown to be effective is CBT and exposure therapy. Both

treatment approaches can help people overcome their fears of social situations.

What Can Cause Anxiety Disorders?

There are many causes that lead to anxiety disorders. Having debilitating diseases like diabetes,

abnormal stress levels from work, society or at home. Genetic factors like hormones or gender, ,

trauma, experiencing physical, emotional and mental abuse over a period of time all have

shown to contribute to why people develop anxiety disorders (Adwas, Azab & Jbrieal, 2019).

The brighter side of Anxiety

While anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion, it should not be viewed in only a negative light.

Anxiety can benefit us. Anxiety helps by allowing us to react faster in emergency situations and

to avoid obstacles. One study found people who had high levels of anxiety is associated with

reduced accidents and accidental death in adulthood (Lee & Hotopf, 2006).

Overall anxiety is not something that we should be afraid of. Anxiety is a normal part of life. We

just need to learn to not let it get too high where it prevents us from living the life we want.


Adwas, Almokhtar & Jbireal, J. & Azab, Azab. (2019). Anxiety: Insights into Signs, Symptoms,

EEology, Pathophysiology, and Treatment. The South African journal of medical sciences. 2. 80-


Ancillon, L.; Elgendi, M.; Menon, C. (2022). Machine Learning for Anxiety Detection Using

Biosignals: A Review. Diagnostics 2022, 12, 1794.

Craske, M., Rauch, S,. Ursano, R., Prenoveau, J., Pine, D., Zinbarg, R., (2011). What is an Anxiety Disorder? The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry.

Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). Anxiety disorders. National Institute of

Health Canada. (n.d.). Anxiety Disorders. Retrieved Month Day, Year, from

Lee, W., Wadsworth, M., & Hotopf, M. (2006). The protective role of trait anxiety: A longitudinal

cohort study. Psychological Medicine, 36 (3). 345-351.

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