Anxiety is a mental state characterised by a sense of worry or anticipation over a future concern. Anxiety disorders deviate from normal worry or nervousness in that they involve anxiety that is disproportionate or excessive to the object of concern or causes significant disruption in one’s life.


Signs and symptoms

  • Excessive worry
  • Apprehension
  • Catastrophizing
  • Feeling a sense of impending danger, or panic
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping difficulties (insomnia)

Anxiety is a central element of several clinically diagnosable mental disorders, including:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD): characterised by a state of excessive worry/anxiety about various parts of one’s life (e.g., work, school) that is difficult to control and persists for a minimum of a 6-month period.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): characterised by excessive worry/anxiety regarding social situations where there is the possibility of scrutiny by others (e.g., meeting new people, having a conversation).
  • Panic disorder: characterised by unexpected panic attacks (i.e., intense surge of fear/discomfort, involving symptoms such as a racing heart, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath) and fear of further panic attacks or behaviours aimed at avoiding future panic attacks.