What Does Anxiety Mean and How to Know if You Have It

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What Does Anxiety Mean and How to Know if You Have It

Anxiety is a very collective emotion that most experience at one point in time or another. Some shared situations where people feel anxious are, work deadlines, test taking or making a big decision. Following, are answers to some of the most common questions regarding anxiety. What does anxiety mean, define anxiety, how to know if you have anxiety, define anxiety disorder and types, what are the statistics and what celebrities does it affect?

What does anxiety mean?

Anxiety is defined as,"a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome." This emotion has many effects on your body and mind. What's anxiety have to do with you physically? People who suffer from anxiety are in constant battle with the "fight or flight" response daily. According to WebMd, "The fight or flight response causes the body’s sympathetic nervous system to release stress hormones such as cortisol. These hormones can boost blood sugar levels and triglycerides (blood fats) that can be used by the body for fuel." This can cause the following bodily and cognitive reactions:

  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Aches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle tension
  • Irritability
  • shortness of breath
  • Dry mouth
  • trembling and twitching
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Digestive disorders
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • In extreme cases, premature coronary artery disease and heart attack.
The above is the general overview of what anxiety means and the physical and mental effects.

How to know if you have anxiety or an anxiety disorder.

Since millions of people experience some level of anxiety, it is important to know when you have general symptoms and when you should be concerned that it could be a possible anxiety disorder. Not all anxiety becomes a disorder. For example, sweating hands and a rapid heartbeat before a speech, is a form of anxiety but not a reason for concern. Occasional lack of sleep during stressful times is another common situation. If you find yourself experiencing anxiety on a regularly or it begins to interfere with your daily lives, you could suffer from an anxiety disorder.Psychologists define anxiety disorder as, "a chronic condition characterized by an excessive and persistent sense of apprehension." Below, are symptoms of an anxiety disorder:
  • Excessive worrying
  • Problems sleeping
  • Panic and fear
  • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Dry mouth
  • Inability to stay calm
  • Nausea
  • Heart palpitations
  • Cold and sweaty hands and feet
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
In order to be considered a disorder, the above symptoms must be regular and affect the functionality of your daily life.

Types of anxiety disorders:

There are several different anxiety disorders. Even though many of the symptoms overlap when you define anxiety disorder, each has its own unique characteristics. The National Institute of Mental Health describes 3 of the most common disorders and their symptoms.
  1. Generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD): Most people will worry in different situations. For instance, paying bills, health and family problems. People with a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely worried about these and many other things, even when there is little or no reason to worry about them. Due to this, you are unable to complete simple daily tasks. People who suffer from GAD, tend to overanalyze and worry even when they know it is unwarranted. They experience sleeping difficulties, muscle aches and tension, headaches, lack of concentration, twitching and hot flashes. GAD is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months. 
  2. Panic Disorder: Millions of Americans suffer from panic disorder. This disorder is accompanied with panic attacks. Panic attacks are more common in women than men and develop during late childhood and early adulthood. Panic attacks are caused by sudden and repeated fear. People feel out of control and experience intense worry. Once you experience a panic attack, it is common to avoid that place in the future. During an attack, you can experience rapid heart rate, breathing problems, dizziness, numbness, chest and stomach pains.
  3. Social Anxiety Disorder: Sometimes referred as Social Phobia, this is the fear of public settings. People become very anxious by the thought of speaking to others. They tend to be extremely self-conscious and get easily embarrassed. Many worry that others are judging them and avoid social gatherings all together. Difficulty making friends is another symptom. Physically, you can feel sick, nauseous and experience trembling in a public setting.


What does anxiety mean when it comes to statistics? Calm Clinic break down several demographics on who is affected by anxiety. 28% of people are probable to experience some sort of anxiety disorder in their lifetime. Women are 60% more likely to experience a disorder than men. Non-Hispanic Whites are more likely to experience a disorder than any other ethnic in the United States by 25%. Of the children who experience anxiety during their childhood, 50% will develop a disorder in adulthood.

Celebrities with anxiety disorders:

Anxiety does not discriminate, and anyone can suffer from it. What's anxiety to celebrities? Several of them experience anxiety and anxiety disorders. Sources online have shown these celebrities may include:
  • Leann Rimes
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Johnny Depp
  • Kate Moss
  • Emma Stone
  • Kim Basinger
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • Adele
  • Joey Votto
Anxiety is a common emotion that sometimes leads to an anxiety disorder. There is no reason for embarrassment as millions suffer from it every day. Now that you are aware of how to know if you have anxiety and how to define anxiety disorder, you can tackle it head on. There are many resources and treatment options available.