Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by excessive feelings of anxiety and fear, where anxiety is worry about future events and fear is a reaction to current events. These feelings may cause physical symptoms such as a racing heart and shakiness. There are various forms of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, phobic disorder, and panic disorder. While each has its own characteristics and symptoms, they all include symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are partly genetic but may also be due to drug use including alcohol and caffeine. They often occur with other mental disorders, particularly major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, certain personality disorders, and eating disorders. The term anxiety covers four aspects of experiences that an individual may have: mental apprehension, physical tension, physical symptoms and dissociative anxiety. The emotions present in anxiety disorders range from simple nervousness to bouts of terror. There are other psychiatric and medical problems that may mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, such as hyperthyroidism.
Common treatment options include lifestyle changes, therapy, and medications. Medications are typically recommended only if other measures are not effective. Anxiety disorders occur about twice as often in females as males, and generally begin during childhood. As many as 18% of Americans and 14% of Europeans may be affected by one or more anxiety disorders.