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What is anxiety?

Everyone has felt anxiety at one time or another–think of the feeling you get when preparing to speak in front of a large crowd. For people who experience an anxiety disorder, that feeling is more consistent, persistent, and overwhelming. Those who experience heightened or disproportionate levels of anxiety may avoid doing things they want or need to do, or may experience more fear or discomfort when doing those things than someone without an anxiety disorder.


Scientists believe anxiety disorders are often the combination of several factors, rather than merely one cause. Genetics, pre-existing mental or physical conditions, drugs and/or the stress of work, school, or relationships are all often cited as common causes of anxiety.


Anxiety manifests both physically and emotionally. Symptoms may include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach
  • Sweating
  • Headaches
  • Frequent urination
  • Feelings of tension
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Fear
  • Desire to avoid situations

Am I at risk?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the United States. Anxiety can affect anyone. In fact, nearly 40 million (or 18%) of adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder. Approximately 8% of children and adolescents have an anxiety disorder. Most people develop symptoms of an anxiety disorder before they turn 21.

Anxiety At A Glance

  • Anxiety is the most common form of mental illness in the United States
  • Two thirds of adults with anxiety do not receive treatment (despite its high level of treat-ability)
  • Anxiety is experienced both physically and mentally
  • Those who suffer from anxiety are prone to suffer from depression as well