Everyone worries in certain situations, and it is important to know that some anxiety is useful or “adaptive” in the sense that it signals to us that a danger is near.

Anxiety disorders differ from normal anxiety and fear. They are overwhelming and interfere with a person’s life and daily functions.

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health issues that affect people world wide, and represent a range of different conditions. Anxiety disorders often begin in childhood or adolescence affecting around 8% of children globally. People with anxiety disorders often also suffer from other mental health conditions such as depression. Symptoms and how severely they are experienced will be different for each disorder and person.


People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. The level of the fear is usually inappropriate to the situation and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. Having phobias can disrupt daily routines, limit work efficiency, reduce self-esteem, and place a strain on relationships, because people will do whatever they can to avoid the uncomfortable and often terrifying feelings of phobic anxiety.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

• Excessive worry about everyday things, like money, health, family, work, or any other number of things or events

• Trouble controlling constant worries • Knowledge that worry is exessive

• Inability to relax

• Difficulty concentrating

• Chronic indigestion

• Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep

• Easily fatigued

• Constant pains and muscle tension

• Difficulty swallowing

• Physical symptoms such as trembling, lightheadedness, irritability

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)

• Distressing fear or anxiety in social situations in which the individual may be judged by others

• Anxiousness about being with other people and have difficulty talking to them, even though they wish they could

• Self-consciousness and embarrassment in front of other people

• Worry for days or weeks before an event where other people will be

• Social situations are avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety

• Blush, sweat, or tremble around other people

•Causes significant distress and impairment in function

Other Anxiety Disorders 

• Panic Disorder

• Agoraphobia

• Separation Anxiety Disorder

• Specific Phobias

• Selective Mutism


Anxiety disorders are highly treatable.

Effective treatments include psychological therapy, medicines, and self-help groups. Studies have found that psychological treatment may have more lasting effects than medication, but treatment should be adjusted to suit the individual. Developing stress and relaxation techniques is also helpful. If you think that you may be suffering from a mental health disorder of any kind, first consult with a physician to rule out any other potential causes for your problem. From there you may be referred to a mental health specialist.

Online Resources

NHS UK Depression and Anxiety Self Assessment Quiz

National Institute of Mental Health –  http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/anxiety-disorders/introduction.shtml

Anxiety Disorders Association of America – http://www.adaa.org/

Rethink Mental Illness – http://www.rethink.org/about_mental_illness/mental_illnesses_and_disorders/anxiety_disorders/index.html