Anxiety is a feeling of extreme worry and apprehension that is out of proportion to whatever is really happening in that moment. Although everyone worries, people with anxiety disorders experience this feeling so often and with so much intensity that it interferes with their ability to function in life. Anxiety can make it difficult to have happy and healthy relationships, to pursue education or succeed in a career. It can also lead to depression and other problems.
If you have problems with anxiety, you might feel as if you are all alone and that no one else struggles with these feelings the way you do. In reality, anxiety disorders are very common. They affect around 12% of the population at any one time. Up to 30% of people will experience an anxiety problem at some point in their lives.
Anxiety can happen to anyone, but it is about twice as common in women as in men. People who experienced abuse or poverty in childhood are also especially likely to suffer from anxiety, as are those with a family history of mental health problems. Whatever the origins of your anxiety, you can get help for your problem. Anxiety disorders don't usually go away on their own, but they do respond to treatment by a skilled professional such as a therapist or mental health counselor.
There are several different anxiety disorders with different characteristics, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, agoraphobia and other phobias, panic disorder, selective mutism and so on. All of these disorders cause the symptoms of anxiety - including intense feelings of worry and fearfulness, shaking hands and an increased heartrate and blood pressure.
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