Anxiety (in general)

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental health condition and brain disorder. There are different types of anxiety disorder, including the most common, generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder

When a person suffers from generalized anxiety disorder, it means that they feel anxiety that is ongoing and continuous for long periods of time, excessive and intense in nature, or both. If this feeling of anxiety disrupts a person’s general well-being or their ability to go about their daily tasks and activities, they are said to suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized anxiety disorder is a mental health condition that usually occurs at the same time as other mental health conditions and disorders. It is also difficult to pinpoint an exact cause for anxiety conditions. There are some people who are genetically predisposed to developing anxiety disorders and there is also some evidence that it is a hereditary condition meaning that it can be passed along from parent to child.


What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

Symptoms of Anxiety can occur at any age.

Symptoms include

People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder often experience symptoms such as restlessness and an inability to relax, as well as obsession and worry over both small and large issues or events in their lives, they are unable to let things go and can blow things out of proportion. A person with anxiety may also find decision-making difficult and stressful and can have difficulty focusing and concentrating.

Additional symptoms include

Anxiety Causes

The main trigger of anxiety is stress in your life. Actual causes include environmental and medical factors, genetics and brain chemistry. If you practice substance abuse, that can bring on heightened anxiety.

If your internal dialogue is overwhelmingly negative about yourself and the world around you, your anxiety has a strong internal source that compounds any stress imposed by the outside world.

Environmental factors that contribute to anxiety include:

  • Trauma of a past event, abuse, or the death of someone close to you
  • Stress factors from a difficult personal relationship
  • Stress at work or school
  • Stress regarding uncertainty around finances
  • Fear of a natural disaster
  • Lack of oxygen due to high altitude

Anxiety sometimes comes from temporary or abnormal medical conditions like anemia, infections, asthma, and heart conditions. Other medical causes are:

  • Stress over serious health issues
  • Medication side effects
  • Lack of oxygen from pulmonary disease
  • Substance abuse

Intoxication or withdrawal from drugs like heroin, Vicodin, benzodiazepines or barbiturates can cause a great deal of pain and anxiety.

How is Anxiety Treated?

Anxiety is responsive to mental health therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.


Therapy includes cognitive-behavioral or talk therapy and may be performed in individual, group, or family sessions.


Prescription anti-anxiety medications like Xanax (alprazolam) can be highly effective at getting anxiety under control and may be used on a long-term or short-term basis for generalized anxiety disorder.


Lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity, healthy diet, and regular sleeping habits may also help in anxiety treatment.

Anxiety Prevention

One of the best ways to prevent anxiety is taking control of your diet. This is the tough part, but you won’t be shocked to find out that means avoiding coffee, tea, energy drinks, and colas. However, you should also avoid some chocolates which contain caffeine.

Try to avoid smoking or smokeless tobacco. Nicotine stimulates physical and mental processes, but it also makes your heart work harder because it makes your blood vessels constrict.

Exercise throughout the day to get rid of excess energies. Everything counts, even a short walk.

It can also help to talk with friends, relatives, colleagues or health care professionals about any concerns or problems you’re experiencing before they escalate.

Keep a journal to help you track your moods and anxiety. Writing down your problems makes them seem smaller. If you are working with a therapist and want to share your journal, it might make going to therapy less scary, with fewer unknowns.

Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
April 10, 2018