Anxiety disorder consists of a range of mental health conditions that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, tension and worry more than how a normal individual should feel or react.

These disorders affect an individual emotionally and mentally presenting physical symptoms.

It is worthy of note that there is a thin line between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Let us quickly look at the difference.

What is Anxiety?

This means an intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations characterized by a fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling of tiredness.

Feelings of anxiety are necessary for survival especially when an individual faces potentially harmful and worrying triggers.

Anxiety disorder

When the duration or severity of an anxious feeling is not proportionate to the original trigger, or stressor, the response goes beyond anxiety and becomes a disorder with physical symptoms such as increased blood pressure and nausea.

An individual with anxiety disorder usually has recurring intrusive thoughts, ideas, or concerns which interfere with daily function.

Symptoms of Anxiety disorder

Emotional symptoms
  • Excessive worry

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Panic attacks

  • Paranoia

  • Poor concentration

  • Restlessness

  • Sleep disturbance

Physical symptoms
  • Profuse sweating

  • Diarrhea

  • Chest pain

  • Palpitation

  • Headache

  • Muscle aches

  • Trembling

  • Shortness of breath

While these symptoms may occur in our everyday life, individuals with anxiety disorder experience them in excess.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • Generalized anxiety disorder: This is the most common type of anxiety disorder involving chronic excessive, long-lasting anxiety, fear, worry and concern about various life events which are nonspecific, situations and even objects. Despite being the most common anxiety disorder, its cause is difficult to identify.

  • Panic disorder: This is characterized by sudden but brief attacks of intense panic and apprehension. These panic attacks tend to occur rapidly and easily escalate after a peak of 10 minutes and may last for hours, resulting in breathing difficulties, nausea, confusion and dizziness. These attacks usually occur following prolonged stress or terrifying experiences.

  • Specific phobia: This is an irrational fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation. Phobias have specific triggers and causes and so differ from other forms of anxiety disorders. Individuals with phobia may acknowledge sudden extreme fear and anxiety around the trigger. Triggers may include animals, objects and situations.

  • Selective mutism: This form of anxiety disorder is mostly experienced by children in which they may be unable to speak in certain places or around familiar people despite having outstanding verbal communication skills.

  • Social phobia: This is an extreme form of anxiety disorder that deals with the fear of inimical judgment or public humiliation from others in a social setting. Social phobia include fear of embarrassment and rejection, stage fright or even fear of intimacy. This disorder may result in extreme difficulty living through every passing day.

  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder: This is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.

Causes of Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety disorder may stem from a cause or a group of causes that might occur at once, some may lead to others, while others may not lead to an anxiety disorder unless another is present.

Possible causes of anxiety disorder include the following:

  • Genetics/hereditary.

  • Environmental stressors, such as family issues, challenges in the workplace, and relationship issues.

  • Medical factors, such as drug effects, symptoms of different diseases, or the stress of an intensive surgery or prolonged recovery.

  • Withdrawal from illegal substances.


Treatment may consist of behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, medication or a combination of all.

  • Use stress management and relaxation techniques.

  • Build good support network.

  • Keep physically active.

  • Exercise.

  • Seek counseling.

  • Medications prescribed by a physician.


It is important to note that the feeling of anxiety is a natural factor of daily life, and its experience does not necessarily imply that a mental health disorder is present.

Here are some steps to follow to mitigate the risk of anxiety disorder

Take the following steps to help moderate anxious emotions:

  • Eat healthy.

  • Cut down on the intake of caffeine, tea, cola, and chocolate.

  • Maintain a regular sleep pattern

  • Do not use over-the-counter medication (OTC) or herbal remedies, without proper medical examination and prescription from a medical doctor.

  • Avoid illegal drugs and alcohol.

Remember, anxiety itself is not a medical condition but a natural emotion that is vital for survival when an individual finds themselves facing danger but when it develops into a disorder, please consult a physician.

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