Condition Spotlight

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous.

But if your feelings of anxiety are extreme, last for longer than six months, and are interfering with your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

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It’s normal to feel anxious about moving to a new place, starting a new job, or taking a test. This type of anxiety is unpleasant, but it may motivate you to work harder and to do a better job. Ordinary it is a feeling that comes and goes, but does not interfere with your everyday life.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating.

Anxiety feels different depending on the person experiencing it. Feelings can range from butterflies in your stomach to a racing heart. You might feel out of control, like there’s a disconnect between your mind and body.

Other ways people experience anxiety include nightmares, panic attacks, and painful thoughts or memories that you can’t control. You may have a general feeling of fear and worry, or you may fear a specific place or event.

Symptoms of the condition include:

  • increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing
  • restlessness
  • trouble concentrating
  • difficulty falling asleep

Your symptoms might be totally different from someone else’s. That’s why it’s important to know all the ways it can present itself.

Researchers are not sure of the exact cause of anxiety. But, it’s likely a combination of factors play a role. These include genetic and environmental factors, as well as brain chemistry. In addition, researchers believe that the areas of the brain responsible for controlling fear may be impacted.