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What Are Anxiety Disorders?


Updated November 27, 2010

Definition: Anxiety is often described as a vague feeling unease similar to fear. Everyone feels anxiety at various points in life in response to stressful situations. An anxiety disorder exists when a person has a long-standing feeling of tension, fear, or unease that may occur on its own with no apparent cause.

Symptoms of anxiety may include physical, psychological, and behavioral features such as rapid pulse, muscle tension, disturbed sleep, irritability, impatience, hypersensitivity to sudden sounds, jumpiness, excessive need to maintain routines, disturbing thoughts, concern that is more intense than would be appropriate to a situation, avoiding interaction with others and worrying.

Phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and post-traumatic-stress disorder (PTSD) are types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders may range from minor to severe. In some cases, anxiety disorders These disorders are severe enough to interfere in all areas of a person's life, job, performance in school, and overall quality of life.

Obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder.
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