Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, and keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder.
Everybody has experienced anxiety. Think about the last time a loud noise frightened you and remember the feelings inside your body. Chances are you experienced an increased heart rate, tensed muscles, and perhaps an acute sense of focus as you tried to determine the source of the noise. These are all symptoms of anxiety. They are also part of a normal process in our bodies called the 'fight or flight' phenomenon. This means that your body is preparing itself to either fight or protect itself or to flee a dangerous situation.
These symptoms become a problem when they occur without any recognizable stimulus or when the stimulus does not warrant such a reaction. In other words, inappropriate anxiety is when a person's heart races, breathing increases, and muscles tense without any reason for them to do so. Once a medical cause is ruled out, an anxiety disorder may be the culprit.
The five major types of anxiety disorder are: