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.
Classification and external resources
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. Furthermore, anxiety has been linked[by whom?] with physical symptoms such as IBS and can heighten other mental-health illnesses such as OCD and 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 but may also be due to drug use, including alcohol, caffeine, and benzodiazepines (which are often prescribed to treat anxiety), as well as withdrawal from drugs of abuse. They often occur with other mental disorders, particularly bipolar disorder, eating disorders, major depressive disorder, or certain personality disorders. Common treatment options include lifestyle changes, medication, and therapy. Metacognitive therapy seeks to diminish anxiety through reducing worry, which is seen[by whom?] as a consequence of metacognitive beliefs.[11]


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.[12] 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.[13] 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,"[14] 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.[15] In positive psychology, anxiety is described as the mental state that results from a difficult challenge for which the subject has insufficient coping skills.[16]

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.[17]

Other Languages
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