Anxiety Disorders – What are they?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. When facing a problem in your relationship, work or school environment, or making an important decision you might feel anxious. Anxiety disorders, however, are significantly different. They cause distress that interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal, productive life. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and tends to get worse over time. These feelings often interfere with activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and social anxiety disorder. Collectively they are the most common mental disorders.


Although it is not clear what causes an anxiety disorder, it is known that several parts of the brain are involved in fear and anxiety. There is still much to be learned about fear and anxiety and its effect on the brain as a whole. Some medical professionals now believe that stress and environmental factors may possibly play a role in the development of these disorders.

Signs and Symptoms

Severe, persistent anxiety that lasts a minimum of six months is usually considered to be a problem that may benefit from evaluation and treatment. While each disorder has distinctive symptoms, all the disorders center on excessive, irrational fear and dread.