Anxiety, at one time or another, is a fact of life. Many people experience feelings of anxiousness when facing stressful situations or important decisions. An Anxiety disorder, however, is a serious mental illness and can interrupt a person’s ability to lead a normal life. For people with anxiety disorders, irrational worry and fear are overpowering and relentless. There are several different anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social phobia.
The symptoms for these disorders vary, but all generally include some type of extreme, irrational fear and feelings of dread. Many people with an anxiety disorders also have physical symptoms such as chest pain, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, tension headaches, nausea, or muscle weakness. Anxiety disorders (characterized by at least six months of symptoms) are fairly common, affecting about 18% of the population. A mental health professional can be helpful in dealing with normal feelings of anxiety as well as specific anxiety disorders.