According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is when we experience feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
Feeling anxious or stress is generally considered a normal and even necessary emotion, and everyone gets anxiety from time to time.
However, people living with an anxiety disorder experience these symptoms much more often—or even all the time. The symptoms of anxiety disorders can interfere with our lives, and long-term health, when left untreated.
When we experience severe, relentless anxiousness, we may have an anxiety disorder.
When anxiety reaches the level of a disorder, it may interfere with our enjoyment of activities, social life, job performance, grades, and relationships, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
It's estimated that one-third of adults will have an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, and women are more likely than men to experience anxiety, according to the APA.
Anxiety disorders are different from feeling anxious in the moment or experiencing acute stress—which is a normal human reaction and can actually be beneficial to us.
There are several anxiety disorders included in the APA’s 2013 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5), the official source mental health professionals use to diagnose mental health issues.
All anxiety disorders share features of excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances. There are five signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Some of the official anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, and phobias.
According to Mental Health America (MHA), "Anxiety disorders are not just a case of ‘nerves.’” MHA points out that these disorders cause us to feel anxious most of the time, making some everyday situations so uncomfortable that we may avoid them entirely.
You may be curious: What exactly is an anxiety disorder, and do I have one?
Or wondering: What's causing my anxiety, and will it ever go away?
To find out if you may have an anxiety disorder, take our 2-Minute Online Anxiety Assessment.
If you suspect you have the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, be sure to talk with your primary care physician and/or a licensed therapist about your concerns.
The Monarch Directory by SimplePractice can help you find a mental health professional near you who specializes in anxiety.
Talk therapy or psychotherapy, as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help us manage our anxiety by learning coping strategies and diving into what needs to change in the present to help us cope better.
CBT helps us focus on our thought processes and behaviors.
When we understand what is driving our anxiety, we're in a better place to cope with anxiety in a healthy way.
While it may be possible for our anxiety to be successfully treated with only medication or only therapy, in most cases, a combination of both treatments is recommended.
If you're wondering about affordable therapy options, you can also find therapists and counselors covered by your insurance.