Understanding Anxiety

Almost everyone gets nervous now and then. It's normal to have knots in your stomach before a test, or for your heart to race on a first date. But an anxiety disorder is much more than a case of nerves. In fact, its symptoms may be overwhelming. But treatment can relieve many of these symptoms. Talking to your doctor is the first step.

What are anxiety disorders?

An anxiety disorder causes intense feelings of panic and fear. These feelings may arise for no reason. And they tend to recur again and again. They may prevent you from coping with life and cause you great distress. As a result, you may avoid anything that triggers your fear. In extreme cases, you may never leave the house. Anxiety disorders may cause other symptoms, such as:

  • Obsessive thoughts you can't control
  • Constant nightmares or painful thoughts of the past
  • Nausea, sweating, and muscle tension

What causes anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. For some people, childhood abuse or neglect may play a role. Anxiety can cause low self-esteem and poor coping skills.

Getting better

You may believe that nothing can help you. Or, you might fear what others may think. But most anxiety symptoms can be eased. Having an anxiety disorder is nothing to be ashamed of. Most people do best with treatment that combines medication and therapy. Although these aren't cures, they can help you live a healthier life.