An estimated 264 million people worldwide have an anxiety disorder. Whether you have everyday anxiety or an anxiety disorder, you can learn important strategies to help you manage and move forward.

Anxiety is a normal part of life and is experienced by most people at some time. If you are experiencing anxiety that is persistent and overwhelming, you may have an “anxiety disorder”.

The term “anxiety disorder” refers to specific psychiatric disorders that involve extreme fear or worry and have specific diagnostic criteria.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Signs and Symptoms

  • Nervousness, irritability, or feeling on edge
  • A sense of impending danger, panic, or doom
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation), sweating, and/or trembling
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) problems

Panic Disorder

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

Social Anxiety Disorder

When having to perform in front of or be around others, people with social anxiety disorder tend to:

  • Blush, sweat, tremble, feel a rapid heart rate, or feel their “mind going blank”
  • Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach
  • Show a rigid body posture, make little eye contact, or speak with an overly soft voice
  • Find it scary and difficult to be with other people, especially those they don’t already know, and have a hard time talking to them even though they wish they could
  • Feel self-conscious in front of other people, embarrassed, and awkward
  • Feel afraid that other people will judge them
  • Stay away from places where there are other people

Specific Phobias

A specific phobia is an intense, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. Although adults with phobias may realize that these fears are irrational, even thinking about facing the feared object or situation (e.g., animals, hurricanes, or flying) brings on severe anxiety symptoms.