A state or feeling of unease.


Tanja Jovanovic, PhD, explained in detail what anxiety is:

Anxiety is the mind and body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event. A certain level of Anxiety helps us stay alert and aware, but for those suffering from an anxiety disorder, it feels far from normal - it can be completely debilitating.

In other words, when someone has an anxiety disorder, they do not simply have occasional bouts of anxiety. A person with an anxiety disorder experiences that anxiety persistently, often, and at a high level.

There are many types of anxiety disorders, according to Abigail Powers Lott, PhD, and Anaïs Stenson, PhD. A few of these are:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: “excessive, uncontrollable worry over events and activities and potential negative outcomes.”
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:  Repeated and persistent thoughts ("obsessions") that typically cause distress and that an individual attempts to alleviate by repeatedly performing specific actions ("compulsions"). 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: An excessive fear of becoming embarrassed or humiliated in social situations, which often leads to significant avoidance behaviors 

Yvonne Ogbonmwan, PhD listed multiple ways that anxiety disorders can be treated. A few of them include:

  • Counseling (talk therapy with mental healthcare providers)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (therapy that helps people understand and reframe their anxious thoughts and feelings)
  • Prolonged Exposure Therapy (therapy in which patients are exposed to stressors and are taught techniques to cope with them)

Ogbonmwan noted that medications such as antidepressants can reduce anxiety, as well.

Some people with anxiety disorders may be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

If you wish to learn more about anxiety disorders, the National Institute on Mental Health and American Psychiatric Association offer more information.