Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, unease, or worry that typically occurs in the absence of an imminent threat. It differs from fear, which is the body’s natural response to immediate danger.
Anxiety is part of the body’s natural reaction to stress, so it can be helpful at times, making you more alert and ready for action.
Anxiety disorders and normal feelings of anxiousness are two different things. Many of us get anxious when faced with particular situations we find stressful, but if those feelings don’t subside, the anxiety could be more chronic.
When feelings of fear or nervousness become excessive, difficult to control, or interfere with daily life, an anxiety disorder may be present. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders in the United States.
It’s common to think about anxiety in a way that may hinder our ability to overcome it. “The biggest misconception about anxiety is that it’s to be feared and avoided at all costs,” says Noah Clyman, a licensed clinical social worker and the director of NYC Cognitive Therapy, a private psychotherapy practice in New York City.