Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps us deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, and keep focused on an important speech. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it becomes a disabling disorder. The NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) supports research into the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of anxiety disorders. Researchers are investigating the impact of environmental factors, such as pollution, physical and psychological stress, and diet.
5 Major Anxiety Disorders
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): chronic anxiety, exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors, such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning, are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away.
- Panic Disorder: unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear, accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. Phobias often result in panic attacks.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): chronic anxiety that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.
- Phobias: A phobia is an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. One of the most common is social anxiety disorder. People with social phobia feel overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday situations. They may fear speaking in public or eating or drinking in front of others. The most severe form may be so broad that symptoms occur almost anytime around other people.