Anxiety is a feeling that can be experienced at different levels of intensity. A low level of anxiety can actually be a positive cue that something needs to be done and can push you to attempt a challenging task. However, a high level of anxiety can impair your ability to function. When anxiety becomes chronic, it becomes relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated. Approximately 19 million American adults suffer from moderate to high levels of chronic anxiety.
A high level of anxiety may become the focus of attention and interfere with concentration and memory. Even though anxiety is an emotion, a very high level of anxiety can be experienced as physical symptoms such as tightness in the chest, inability to sit still, sweaty hands, pounding heart, or feeling faint. An anxious person may begin to avoid activities because they fear becoming overwhelmed. This begins a chain of events in which avoidance extends into more areas of life.
Problems with anxiety can be experienced in a variety of ways. Types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia (social anxiety disorder), specific phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder. Each of these types are described in the glossary found in this website. Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features, but they are all bound together by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear and dread.
Learning to cope with anxiety is very important to a person's emotional well being. A good first step is to talk to a psychologist who will help identify the worries that have become overwhelming, and advise you how to deal with them one step at a time. This will help you to deal with current and future challenges more effectively.
© 2005, Morris County Psychological Association