Anxiety is the body's response to fear. It plays a valuable role in self-preservation - the fear of the consequences often prevents us from taking unnecessary risks. Anxiety as a disorder results from the fear response becoming out of proportion to the actual risk. Anxiety disorders involve excessive levels of negative emotions, such as fear, worry, nervousness, and tension, and the anxious feelings occur involuntarily despite your best attempts to avoid them or stave them off.
The body responds to anxiety stimulus both physically and mentally. Anxiety can lead to over-stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. It manifests by the physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, sweating and trembling, and psychological symptoms such as restlessness, insomnia and difficulty in concentrating.
Anxiety is often seen as a triggering of the fight-or-flight reaction, causing excess adrenaline to be produced by the adrenal glands, which in turn produce other hormones (catecholamines) that affect various parts of the body, such as heartbeat and respiration. (See
holisticonline.com stress infocenter for
Generalized anxiety disorder
(GAD) is not taken seriously as a medical condition by many people-including doctors-yet it is a debilitating mental illness that often leads to tragic outcomes for the individuals who suffer from it.
Generalized anxiety disorder is often found to be associated with (comorbidity) major depression. 14% of patients whose GAD is accompanied by major depression have attempted suicide at least once, according to Martin Keller, MD, chief of psychiatry, Brown University, Providence, R.I. What is interesting is that even in those who were not diagnosed with depression, 11% have attempted suicide. (JAMA 1989;262:2654).
There are two types of anxiety disorders based on
the origin of the cause.
Exogenous anxiety is provoked by an identifiable danger or stressor existing outside of the person. For example, if your spouse is ill with a high fever, your exogenous anxiety is a natural response to the situation.
Endogenous anxiety is produced within the person. It can be caused by internal conflicts, such as having to make a tough decision. In this case, the cause of the anxiety is not always identifiable.