Anxiety is a natural human reaction to perceived danger. A useful emotion, it stimulates us to prepare for high-alert situations. Anxiety disorders are mental illnesses characterized by a constant sense of worry and fear that often gets in the way of daily activity. Where general anxiety is a normal and healthy emotional response, anxiety disorders occur when anxiety becomes excessive, overwhelming and crippling for an individual.

Anxiety disorders, defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), include the following:

Symptoms

Different types of anxiety disorders elicit individual symptoms. Common symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Sensations of panic and uneasiness for no apparent reason
  • Obsessive thoughts
  • Ritualistic behavior
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle tension
  • Inability to remain calm

Potential Causes

The direct cause of anxiety disorders is still unknown. It is understood, however, that the following factors put people at risk of an anxiety disorder:

  • Chemical imbalances
  • Long-lasting stress
  • Family history of anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Abuse of biological agents such as alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication

Anxiety disorders can sometimes feel like they come out of nowhere. This uncertainty can cause an anxious person even more stress. Without understanding the triggers for your anxiety, it is difficult to learn how to cope. Being able to identify your triggers and the physical and emotional sensations experienced as a result of stress, also known as alarms, you can develop effective coping strategies to deal with your anxiety.

With the ABCtracker™, you can create a personalized program to target your specific fears, profile the causes of your anxiety, and map out your progress.

*In the revised DSM-5, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are no longer included within the chapter of anxiety disorders. OCD is now included with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders and PTSD is included with trauma- and stressor-related disorders. However, a close relationship between anxiety disorders and OCD and PTSD are maintained throughout the publication.