Anxiety is an emotion that a person feels in response to an imagined or potential danger. Anxiety, like fear, can result in a number of emotional and physical manifestations, including apprehension, distraction, restlessness, irritability, sweating, nausea, dizziness and fatigue.
Anxiety can have a wide variety of causes, including biological factors such as genetic makeup, increased neurobiological activity, and decreased serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Environmental factors can also contribute to anxiety, including exposure to negative life experiences.
Mental anxiety may also have its roots in a clinical anxiety disorder. Primary disorders include phobias and panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the most common one, affects 5 percent of the population.
Some simple ways to reduce anxiety include making stress-reducing lifestyle changes and learning stress management and relaxation techniques. Individuals with clinically-diagnosed anxiety disorders will also benefit from counseling and psychotherapy treatments.
Not everyone who experiences anxiety also has an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety disorders can be over-diagnosed, depending on a person's age and cultural background. When the experience of anxiety continually disrupts everyday functioning, then an individual should seek professional help.
Mental anxiety has many causes, from physiological imbalances and genetic factors to stressful thoughts and experiences. The extent to which an individual experiences anxiety can help to determine whether the anxiety is a natural response to a stressful event or a symptom of a clinical disorder.