A. Morison "Physiognomy of mental diseases", cases Wellcome L0022722 (cropped).jpg
A person diagnosed with panphobia, from Alexander Morison's 1843 book The Physiognomy of Mental Diseases.
SpecialtyPsychiatry, psychology

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil, often accompanied by nervous behaviour such as pacing back and forth, somatic complaints, and rumination.[1] It is the subjectively unpleasant feelings of dread over anticipated events, such as the feeling of imminent death.[2][need quotation to verify] Anxiety is not the same as fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat,[3] whereas anxiety involves the expectation of future threat.[3] Anxiety is a feeling of uneasiness and worry, usually generalized and unfocused as an overreaction to a situation that is only subjectively seen as menacing.[4] It is often accompanied by muscular tension,[3] restlessness, fatigue and problems in concentration. Anxiety can be appropriate, but when experienced regularly the individual may suffer from an anxiety disorder.[3]

People facing anxiety may withdraw from situations which have provoked anxiety in the past.[5] There are various types of anxiety. Existential anxiety can occur when a person faces angst, an existential crisis, or nihilistic feelings. People can also face mathematical anxiety, somatic anxiety, stage fright, or test anxiety. Social anxiety and stranger anxiety are caused when people are apprehensive around strangers or other people in general. Stress hormones released in an anxious state have an impact on bowel function and can manifest physical symptoms that may contribute to or exacerbate IBS. Anxiety is often experienced by those who have an OCD and is an acute presence in panic disorder. The first step in the management of a person with anxiety symptoms involves evaluating the possible presence of an underlying medical cause, whose recognition is essential in order to decide the correct treatment.[6][7] Anxiety symptoms may mask an organic disease, or appear associated with or as a result of a medical disorder.[6][7][8][9]

Anxiety can be either a short-term "state" or a long-term "trait". Whereas trait anxiety represents worrying about future events, anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by feelings of anxiety and fear.[10] Anxiety disorders are partly genetic, with twin studies suggesting 30-40% genetic influence on individual differences in anxiety.[11] Environmental factors are also important. Twin studies show that individual-specific environments have a large influence on anxiety, whereas shared environmental influences (environments that affect twins in the same way) operate during childhood but decline through adolescence.[12] Specific measured ‘environments’ that have been associated with anxiety include child abuse, family history of mental health disorders, and poverty.[13] Anxiety is also associated with drug use, including alcohol, caffeine, and benzodiazepines (which are often prescribed to treat anxiety).

Anxiety disorders often occur with other mental health disorders, particularly major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, or certain personality disorders. It also commonly occurs with personality traits such as neuroticism. This observed co-occurrence is partly due to genetic and environmental influences shared between these traits and anxiety.[14][15]


A job applicant with a worried facial expression

Anxiety is distinguished from fear, which is an appropriate cognitive and emotional response to a perceived threat.[16] Anxiety is related to the specific behaviors of fight-or-flight responses, defensive behavior or escape. It occurs in situations only perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable, but not realistically so.[17] David Barlow defines anxiety as "a future-oriented mood state in which one is not ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events,"[18] and that it is a distinction between future and present dangers which divides anxiety and fear. Another description of anxiety is agony, dread, terror, or even apprehension.[19] In positive psychology, anxiety is described as the mental state that results from a difficult challenge for which the subject has insufficient coping skills.[20]

Fear and anxiety can be differentiated in four domains: (1) duration of emotional experience, (2) temporal focus, (3) specificity of the threat, and (4) motivated direction. Fear is short lived, present focused, geared towards a specific threat, and facilitating escape from threat; anxiety, on the other hand, is long-acting, future focused, broadly focused towards a diffuse threat, and promoting excessive caution while approaching a potential threat and interferes with constructive coping.[21]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Angs
العربية: قلق
asturianu: Ansiedá
تۆرکجه: تشویش
беларуская: Трывога
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Трывога
български: Тревожност
bosanski: Anksioznost
català: Ansietat
čeština: Úzkost
Cymraeg: Gordyndra
dansk: Angst
Deutsch: Angst
eesti: Ärevus
español: Ansiedad
Esperanto: Anksieco
euskara: Herstura
فارسی: اضطراب
français: Anxiété
galego: Ansiedade
한국어: 불안
հայերեն: Տագնապ
हिन्दी: चिंता
hrvatski: Anksioznost
Ido: Anxio
Bahasa Indonesia: Kegelisahan
italiano: Ansia
עברית: חרדה
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಆತಂಕ
kurdî: Anksiyete
Latina: Anxietas
latviešu: Nemiers
lietuvių: Nerimas
македонски: Анксиозност
Bahasa Melayu: Kegelisahan
Nederlands: Bezorgdheid
日本語: 不安
norsk: Angst
norsk nynorsk: Angst
occitan: Ància
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଉଦ୍‌ବେଗ
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਚਿੰਤਾ
polski: Lęk
português: Ansiedade
română: Anxietate
Runa Simi: Phutikuy
русский: Тревога
Scots: Anxeeity
shqip: Ankthi
sicilianu: Ngustia
Simple English: Anxiety
slovenčina: Úzkosť
slovenščina: Tesnoba
کوردی: دڵەڕاوکێ
српски / srpski: Стрепња
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Anksioznost
svenska: Ångest
Tagalog: Pagkabalisa
Türkçe: Anksiyete
українська: Тривога
Tiếng Việt: Lo âu
walon: Angoxhe
žemaitėška: Nerėms
中文: 焦慮