What is Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is what psychologists call ‘anxiety disorder’.
Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling of fear and apprehension, whereas anxiety disorder is what you can be diagnosed with if you experience anxiety disorder symptoms.

by Elia Strange


Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree. When you prepare for a job interview or even for your next holiday, you might experience feelings of uncertainty, nervousness, and anxiety.

If you suffer from anxiety disorder, then your feelings would be much worse. For example, you might be suffering from panic disorder, a particular phobia of something specific, post-traumatic stress disorder, or a variety of all those things.

Generally speaking, when you experience anxiety, you might feel dizziness, rapid heartbeat, trembling. You might also feel being terrorised and being in danger.

When your anxiety becomes anxiety disorder?

Generally speaking, if you have feelings of anxiety that are overwhelming you, disrupt your daily life and your sense of wellbeing, and has been with you for at least 6 months, then you might be suffering from anxiety disorder.

If the symptoms cannot be explained by a specific event (for example, you had a trauma in the past, or you are afraid of particular objects or places), then you might be diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

What are the anxiety disorders?

Psychologists categorise anxiety disorders into 6 principal categories: phobias, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and acute stress disorder. Often a person diagnosed with anxiety disorder actually experiences more than one of the aforementioned types.



The patient, a twenty-four-year-old mechanic, had been referred for psychotherapy by his physician, whom he had consulted because of his dizziness and difficulties in falling asleep.

He was quite visibly distressed during the entire initial interview, gulping before he spoke, sweating, and continually fidgeting in his chair. His repeated requests for water to slake a seemingly unquenchable thirst were another indication of his extreme nerviousness. Although he first related his physical concerns, a more general picture of pervasive anxiety soon emerged.

He reported that he nearly always feels tense. He seemed to worry about anything and everything. He was apprehensive of disasters that could befall him as he worked and interacted with other people. He reported a long history of difficulties in interpersonal relationships, which had led to his being fired from several jobs.

As he put it, “I really like people and try to get along with them, but it seems like I fly off the handle too easily. Little things they do upset me too much. I just can’t cope unless everything is going exactly right”.

How do they treat anxiety disorders?

The treatment usually consists of two types: psychological therapy and medication.
Psychological treatments typically involve several sessions of psychotherapy which are aimed at changing the way you think about and react to your experience of anxiety.
For example, the way you feel about certain events, people and places, may be successfully changed so that you felt less stressed and anxious.

Medical treatments often involve drugs that reduce anxiety – sedative, tranquilisers, or anxiolytics.

Some drugs unfortunately can cause certain side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction, hypertension, and addiction to them. This is why psychological approaches are always preferable.

What can you do yourself to reduce your anxiety

It depends on the degree of anxiety you experience and the causes of them.
If they are connected to your feelings of being stressed, then you might benefit from the suggestions I made in these articles: What to do when you are stressed and How to reduce stress instantly.

You could also benefit from books on relaxation and reducing stress, which are available on Amazon in their hundreds. What might be suitable for one might not be suitable for or appealing to another, so have a look and make your choice.

However, if you find that anxiety is overwhelming, and when it comes, you feel fear, helplessness, and that you are not able to move, then may be a trip to a counsellor or your medical practitioner might be an option for you.

Other Articles you might be interested in:

Do I have Anxiety Disorder

Life is too f***ing short

What is OCD

How to be happy in this 'unhappy' world Do I have Social Anxiety?

I have Social Anxiety... What to do?

... or go to:

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'What is Anxiety' Article Reference:

Davidson, G.C., Neale, J.M. & Kring, A.M. (2004). Abnormal Psychology.
Rathus, S.A. (1999). Psychology in the new millennium. (7th ed.)
Durand, V.M., Barlow, D.H. (2006). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. (4th ed.)

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