What is anxiety? Definition, symptoms and effects

Stress, Stress Causes, Stress consequences adminStressRelief

Anxiety is in the mouth of everyone. In every culture and social circle, anxiety is used to refer to general symptoms or situations that led us to misunderstand the real meaning and range of its true effects.

In this article you will learn to:

  • Identify the causes and effects of anxiety through psychology and medical publications.
  • Determine when medical help is needed.
  • Recognize the most common anxiety disorders.
  • Evaluate yourself in front of possible anxiety attack symptoms.

Anxiety definition: What science says about?

APA Dictionary defines anxiety as an emotion centered in the fully expectation of future danger and distress (which defers from fear centered in the immediate threats). Likewise, it is also manifested through the apprehension of corporal symptoms produced by stress or illness suffered in the present.

This manifestations are recognized as mental disorders, characterized by the obsession on adverse circumstances , whether they aren’t even real.

The causes: Let’s go back to the roots

There are many ways to become anxious. It depends strongly on people perspective over circumstances, the resilience on high impact events and the acceptance of life’s changes.

Science shows that people are more likely to become anxious after traumatic events. The patient may examine his last recent experiences and check out the implicit changes of life it brought to determine the root of uneasiness.

E.g.: A surgery, separation, lost, new responsibilities, illness, debts.

In addition, there is scientific evidence that links medical conditions to anxiety. A dangerous bridge between them is stress. Certainly, stress damage your organs. However, it magnifies at the same time the mental pressure anxiety needs to arise.

Symptoms: Let’s spot them

Certainly, anxiety has a wide variety of manifestations. They can affect a person from psychological to behavioral symptoms, passing by somatic problems. Therefore, medical science has categorized them to understand and treat them specifically.

According to these studies anxiety disorders categories and its symptoms are:

GAD (General anxiety disorders)

This type of disorder is mainly characterized by excessive worry and difficulties to handle it. In addition, these thoughts are persistent and people who suffer it find themselves trapped in recurrent overwhelming thoughts.

They perceive worry as part of problem solving and they strongly stick to it.

GAD symptoms may last more than 6 month. These symptoms include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Irritability.
  • Sweating.
  • Lack of concentration.
  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Irritable bowel.
  • General muscle tension.
  • Restlessness.
  • Ongoing worry.
  • Overthinking situations.
  • Indecisiveness.
  • Focused on worst results only.

Panic disorder

It can be described as the recurrent intense fear and panic attacks a person can suffer, specially when a previous threat, shocking circumstances or prolonged stress period have occurred before. These attacks may come in a sudden, even when its characteristic of these disorder to fear and expect a new coming attack.

Panic attacks are expected to happen few times in life. But if they’re persistent, triggering worries about new attacks and disrupting everyday life functioning over more than one month, it can be considered a panic disorder.

Symptoms of panic disorder may include:

  • Trembling.
  • Feelings of “out of yourself“.
  • Fearing of the sudden.
  • Focusing in the worst scenarios.
  • Dizziness.
  • Feeling alone or with no help.
  • Think they’re suffering deadly illnesses.
  • Choking feeling.
  • Sweating.

Social anxiety disorder

Known also as social phobia. This particular disorder is characterized by an uneasy state of mind about anticipated public misfortunes or problems. In other words, there are individual’s self-established patterns and believes on social interaction such as performance, social behavior and position that cause distress and functioning impairment.

This type of phobia forces the person to avoid the feared situation altogether. For instance, playing an instrument in front of others, approaching new people or eating in public may lead the person to run and hide or perform dreadfully ashamed for critics and the show performance.

Social phobia symptoms may include:

  • Muscle tension.
  • Recurring embarrassing thoughts.
  • Faint feeling.
  • Dizziness.
  • Stomach troubles.
  • Trembling.
  • Accelerated heartbeat.
  • Excessive perspiration.

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

People suffering OCD feel a strong need of worrying to relieve stress that waiting, doing or avoiding situations may cause them. They deny to see it as an obsession, they see preoccupation as a necessary bridge to wellness, even if they can’t do anything about the supposed threat.

Along the same line, this disorder is characterized also by the requirement of perfection. For instance, the intense need to recheck and to reorder things repeatedly to feel safe, the need of cleaning and searching in the web about symptoms of any illness to make sure they’re right.

Above all, many of these worries may have never existed in real life, but in the mind of the person who believes it. If not attended, OCD may become chronic.

Some of the OCD’s symptoms are:

  • Sleeping problems.
  • Irritability.
  • Inability to relax.
  • Hoarding.
  • Repeating actions in order to be safe or perfect.
  • After a while, the worries comeback.
  • Tapping.
  • Needing symmetry.
  • Afraid of loosing control and become “The Hulk” and hurt loved ones.

Separation Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

This disorder is recognized for the excessive fear of getting away from a place or person. Although it’s common to find this type of despair in children, adults can feel it in the same way.

We can consider this worries as a separation disorder when people see their lives as dependent on other people, places or objects to live calm. Specifically over extended periods of time, and when the attachment object is not necessary at all in the given circumstance.

While this may be true, you can break this wall by understanding that you can adapt to separation, to the loss, to new environments and new people.

Symptoms of SAD may include:

  • Distress over sleeping without attachment figures.
  • Fear of being alone.
  • Worry about harm coming to attachment figures that may lead to separation.
  • Avoiding to be alone.
  • Constantly having nightmares.
  • Headaches.
  • Clingy.
  • Stomachaches.
  • Regularly calling parents or loved one attention.

The Consequences: The results of dealing with it

There’s a long list of damage anxiety may do to your body, mind and demeanor. In fact, the most a person deals with it, it’s more likely to develop a mental disorder and to get more harmful symptoms.

All your health is in danger, whether its your body or mind.

To recap, some of the preview consequences are listed below:

  • Increases risk of high blood pressure.
  • Vasoconstriction, leading to vision loss or heart stroke if not treated.
  • Heart diseases.
  • Addiction to drug prescription.
  • Chronic illness suffering.
  • General muscle aches.
  • Acute stress
  • Depression.
  • Appearance or boost of phobias.
  • Weight gain.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • A recurrent feeling of breath taking problems.

Anxiety tests

There are some couple of good online tests that will help you detect your anxiety level


  1. https://dictionary.apa.org/anxiety
  2. https://www.med.upenn.edu/psychiatry/anxiety_panic.html
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000955.htm
  4. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/health-anxiety-what-it-and-how-beat-it
  5. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/health-anxiety-what-it-and-how-beat-it
  6. https://dictionary.apa.org/generalized-anxiety-disorder
  7. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety
  8. https://dictionary.apa.org/social-phobia
  9. https://dictionary.apa.org/panic-disorder
  10. https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd
  11. https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety/types-of-anxiety/ocd
  12. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/separation-anxiety
  13. https://dictionary.apa.org/separation-anxiety-disorder

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One thought on “What is anxiety? Definition, symptoms and effects”

  1. ExoRank says:

    Awesome post! Keep up the great work! 🙂

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