What is anxiety?

Theresa Nguyen, LCSW, Mental Health America

People who feel anxiety often describe feeling worried, agitated, stressed, or fearful. Feeling scared or worried is a normal human experience. Often, feeling worried or fearful is an instinct we developed to protect ourselves from harm.  When too much worry or fear effects your life, you might have anxiety.

Anxiety is a type of mental illness where people feel overwhelming and intrusive fear and worry.  To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, a person would worry much more than is normally expected. They might worry about things that don’t seem worrisome to others and they spend much of their time bothered by their worry.

The experiences (or symptoms) that people with anxiety experience include:

  1. Feeling restless
  2. Feeling tired
  3. Difficulty concentrating or losing their train of thought
  4. Irritability
  5. Muscle pain, tightness, or soreness
  6. Difficulty sleeping – both falling asleep or staying asleep or being rested

Life Problems

For people who have anxiety, the symptoms cause serious problems in their lives. When a person has anxiety, it isn’t uncommon to want to avoid situations that cause more anxiety. For some people, this means isolating themselves or engaging in behaviors that decreases the anxiety but that others do not understand.


Finding the source of your anxious thoughts can help you to start tackling the thoughts and changing them.  For people who experience trauma (a bad experience), anxiety is a way that your brain and body has reacted to the traumatic experience – sometimes as a protective measure. When we’re feeling attacked it makes sense to be on guard and not trust others. Unfortunately for people who have been through trauma, those thoughts and protective behaviors continue even when danger is gone. Finding ways to feel safe, re-teach your body and mind to readjust to feelings of safety, and working through bad experiences can help.

Check out this Video made by our friends at the Kendall College of Art and Design



Treatment & Resources