Anxiety

Worried that you worry too much? Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But feeling extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or repeatedly feel panicky, may be signs of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders include panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults. A person has an anxiety disorder if she or he has persistent worry for more days than not, for at least several months. Some people with anxiety feel they have always been worriers, even since childhood or adolescence. In other people, anxiety comes on suddenly, triggered by a crisis or a period of stress, such as the loss of a job, a family illness, the death of a relative, or other tragedy.

Numerous therapies can help control anxiety. These include psychotherapy and medication, ideally supported by good nutrition, sleep, and regular exercise. People who are anxious tend to reach for unhealthy "comfort" food—and then worry about it. Or they completely avoid food, skipping meals or even fasting—and worry that something is wrong, such as an undiagnosed cancer. Healthy eating can avoid these anxiety triggers.

Not getting enough sleep can boost a person's anxiety level. On the flip side, getting enough sleep can help control stress and anxiety. So can getting regular exercise—aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week.

Anxiety Articles

Staying calm in turbulent times

Several self-help techniques may reduce anxiety. However, it’s important to distinguish everyday anxiety from an anxiety disorder and to get help from a mental health professional if anxiety interferes with daily life. (Locked) More »

Uncovering the link between emotional stress and heart disease

Heightened activity in the amygdala—a brain region involved in processing fear and other intense emotions—may trigger a person’s bone marrow to generate white blood cells. This can lead to inflammation in the arteries, which encourages the buildup of fatty plaque and raises the risk of heart attack. In people with post-traumatic stress disorder, higher perceived levels of stress have been linked to greater amygdala activity and artery inflammation. More »

Take steps to prevent or reverse stress-related health problems

The relaxation response helps to manage stress. It may also reduce the activity of genes that are harmful to health. For example, it may activate genes associated with dilating the blood vessels, and reduce activity of genes associated with blood vessel narrowing and inflammation. That may help lower blood pressure. Practicing this approach for 10 to 20 minutes daily brings positive physiological benefits. Techniques to evoke the relaxation response include focused breathing and guided imagery, among many others. More »

Overcoming anxiety

Millions of older adults suffer from anxiety. Idleness in retirement, financial worries, and health issues are the leading causes of anxiety among older men. However, the condition is highly treatable with therapy, medication, and simple lifestyle changes. More »

Meditation may ease anxiety from active surveillance

A mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) can help control anxiety among men who follow active surveillance for prostate cancer. The wait-and-see approach can make men feel so uneasy about their condition that they opt for treatment with radiation therapy or surgery when it is unnecessary. MBSR not only eases anxiety levels, but also inspires men to be more proactive about their health and adopt lifestyle changes like a proper diet and exercise. More »

How music can help you heal

Music therapy has been demonstrated to calm anxiety, ease pain, facilitate rehabilitation, and improve quality of life for people with dementia. (Locked) More »

Calm your anxious heart

Anxiety disorders alter the stress response, affecting the same brain systems that influence cardiovascular functions such as heart rate and blood pressure. People who have ongoing anxiety problems suffer higher rates of heart attack and other cardiac events. Managing anxiety, depression, and stress can improve a person’s sense of well-being and lower the risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. (Locked) More »