Everybody knows what it’s like to feel anxious — the butterflies in your stomach when you have to meet a deadline, the tension you feel when your boss is angry, and the way your heart pounds if you’re in danger. Anxiety rouses you to action. It gears you up to face a threatening situation. It makes you study harder for that exam, and keeps you on your toes when you’re making a speech. In general, it helps you cope.

But if you have an anxiety disorder, this normally helpful emotion can do just the opposite — it can keep you from coping and can disrupt your daily life.

An anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time, without any apparent reason. Or the anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that to avoid them you may stop some everyday activities. Or you may have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense they terrify and immobilize you or prevent you from leaving your home.

Anxiety can also manifest itself as physical illness, people often wind up in emergency rooms with what they believe to be a heart attack and find that it is a panic attack instead. Other common physical symptoms can be dizziness, back pain, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome and other stomach or digestive problems, it is also thought to contribute to the onset of fibromyalgia. After having these symptoms thoroughly examined by a doctor, it may be determined that their cause is anxiety. Psychotherapy or psychoanalysis are an essential part of a long lasting and effective treatment.


  • Excessive, ongoing worry and tension
  • An unrealistic view of problems
  • Restlessness or a feeling of being “edgy”
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Nausea
  • The need to go to the bathroom frequently
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Trembling
  • Being easily startled