Mental Health disorders affect millions of people worldwide. In recent times, there has been increased awareness, and more people are becoming informed about their mental health.

The Health City would like to shed more light on a very common but mostly overlooked psychiatric disorder known as Anxiety disorder.


Anxiety is simply a feeling of fear, dread, nervousness or worry. It is the body's natural response to stressful conditions. Anyone can be anxious about anything and most people have experienced anxiety at some point in their lives.

It is usually temporary and can be caused by impending events like preparing for an examination or job interview, stressful situations at work or home, making an important decision etc. 

When someone says they are worried, it is the same thing as being anxious and they can be used interchangeably.

Symptoms of anxiety may include rapid pulse/palpitations, profuse sweating, hyperventilation, restlessness, insomnia, and inability to stay calm or concentrate.

In extreme cases, there could be dizziness, shortness of breath, and behavioural changes such as avoiding normal daily activities.

Anxiety becomes an issue when it lasts for a longer period and begins to interfere with the person's normal activities and relationships. This is called Anxiety disorder and is diagnosed by a mental health professional.


Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health disorders characterized by extreme fear which could be debilitating and prevents one from leading their normal lives.

According to the new classification by DSM-5, anxiety disorders include conditions such as separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder, and anxiety disorder due to another medical condition.

Women are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders and they typically occur in younger age groups.

Let us briefly examine some common forms of anxiety disorder:

1. Generalized anxiety disorder: Here, the person worries about seemingly normal things like money, health, their job etc, but excessively, and it lasts for at least 6 months.

2. Panic disorder: People with panic disorder have panic attacks. There is a sudden onset of intense fear, even when there is no danger. Panic attacks last for a few to several minutes.

It happens repeatedly and may mimic serious health conditions as the person may feel like they are having a 'heart attack'

3. Phobia: This is an intense fear of something or a situation that is not ordinarily dangerous e.g. fear of small spaces, fear of spiders, etc.

4. Social anxiety disorder: Individuals affected usually have an extreme fear of being in social situations because they feel they are being judged by others. E.g. They may decline to attend a friend's wedding if they know they will be asked to give a toast or call in sick if they are told to give a presentation at work.

5. Separation anxiety disorder: This is commoner in children who may fear being separated from their parents when they have to go to school.


Factors such as genetics, hormones and environment can increase the risk of anxiety.

  • Naturally shy people may feel anxious when they meet new people.
  • Having traumatic experiences, especially in early childhood can predispose one to anxiety. Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders.
  • Some health conditions and chronic illnesses can make one prone to anxiety. Drug abuse


A diagnosis of anxiety disorder is made by healthcare professionals after carrying out physical examinations, mental health examinations, and psychological assessments.

In some cases, blood and urine samples may be tested to rule out other medical conditions that could contribute to the symptoms you have.


Like many mental illnesses, anxiety disorders can be managed.

After diagnosis, your doctor may suggest treatment options such as psychotherapy, or prescribe anxiolytics or antidepressants to help you overcome the symptoms and lead a normal life.

Other non-medical ways to manage anxiety disorders include stress management,  practicing  mindfulness, yoga, getting enough sleep, avoiding alcohol and caffeine, exercising and eating a healthy diet.


While anxiety is not bad on its own, anxiety disorders could be quite distressing and affects the quality of life of an individual. They also carry the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease in the long run, if not effectively managed.

If you experience extreme anxiety or know someone who does, you can encourage them to get help by seeking a mental health professional.


  1. emedicine.medcape.com
  2. healthline.com

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