You may have heard of the word anxiety, but what does it mean? Read on to discover everything you need to know about the meaning of anxiety.
Seeing as it affects nearly 30 percent of all adults at some point in their lives, chances are you’ve heard a thing or two about anxiety before — but do you know what anxiety actually is?
Not to worry; the term anxiety is one that often brings quite a bit of confusion, as many people think it’s interchangeable with feeling stressed out. However, this is not necessarily the case.
In this article, we’re exploring the meaning of anxiety to help you learn you need to know about one of the most common mental health concerns in the nation.
We’ll uncover the definition of anxiety, explore symptoms, take a look at a few usage examples, and more. By the end of this post, you should have a good understanding of what anxiety means and feel comfortable using the term in a sentence.
Let’s get started.
What Is the Definition of Anxiety?
Anxiety can mean different things to different people. So, to clear up any confusion on what it truly means, let’s take a look at a few definitions:
- A normal reaction to stress, anxiety is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as the anticipation of future concerns.
- According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is a strong emotion that can be characterized by intense feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like a rapid heartbeat.
- The Cambridge Dictionary defined anxiety as an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that’s happening or might happen in the future.
After reviewing the above definitions, we can conclude that anxiety refers to the feelings of fear, doom, and uneasiness that may occur as a reaction to stress.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Feeling a little anxious from time to time is a completely normal part of life. You might feel a bit tense when faced with an issue at work, starting a new job, or before making a significant decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than provisional worry.
For an individual with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety can be intense and doesn’t just go away after a few breathing exercises.
Described as having recurring intrusive thoughts, worries, or concerns, once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.
Although there are many types of anxiety disorders, the most common are as follows:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Social anxiety disorder
- Specific phobias
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Selective mutism
- Medication-induced anxiety disorder
What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders?
The different types of anxiety disorders can display different symptoms, but more often than not, they have a combination of:
- Anxious thoughts that are difficult to control
- Changes in behavior, such as avoiding activities that you once enjoyed
- Physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling, chest pain, unexplained aches and pains, shortness of breath, and dizziness
- Poor sleep
- Inability to concentrate
What Causes Anxiety?
Experts aren’t totally sure what the exact cause of anxiety is, but it’s likely due to a mix of things, such as genetic and environmental factors, as well as brain chemistry. Traumatic events may also play a role, as they appear to trigger anxiety disorders in people who are already prone to the illness.
Other risk factors for anxiety disorders include:
- History of mental health disorder
- Childhood sexual abuse
- Negative life events
- Substance abuse
- Severe illness or chronic health condition
- Being shy as a child
- Low self-esteem
How Is Anxiety Treated?
There are many treatments available to help reduce and manage the symptoms of anxiety disorder, such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that teaches people new ways of thinking, behaving, and reacting to stressful situations.
- Medication doesn’t cure anxiety, but it may help relieve symptoms. Anxiety medication is prescribed by doctors, such as a psychiatrist or primary care provider.
- Antidepressants are used to treat depression, but they cal also be helpful for treating certain anxiety disorders.
- Beta-blockers are a type of high blood pressure drug that can calm a racing heart due to anxious thoughts.
In addition, a person may be able to cope with their symptoms at home through a number of self-treatment strategies, such as:
- Stress management
- Relaxation techniques
- Support groups
Examples of Anxiety in a Sentence
Now that you understand what anxiety is, it’s time to practice using the word in a sentence. To get you started, we’ve put together a few usage examples for you below:
I experience a lot of anxiety when I am in social situations.
My psychiatrist told me that my panic attacks are likely due to anxiety, not caffeine.
If you have feelings of impending doom, don’t like open spaces, and regularly get heart palpitations, you may have an anxiety disorder.
I’ve been going to counseling for my anxiety, and I think it’s really helping my mental health.
Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness that might cause you to sweat, feel restless, and have a rapid heart rate. It can be a perfectly normal reaction to stress, however, if you experience anxiety that doesn’t go away, you may have a disorder and should consider seeking treatment.