Anxiety is a psychological and physiologicalstate characterized by cognitive, somatic, emotional,and behavioralcomponents. These components combine to create an unpleasantfeelingthat is typically associated with uneasiness, fear, or worry. Anxiety is ageneralized mood condition that occurs without anidentifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguishedfrom fear,which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear isrelated to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety isthe result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.
Another view is that anxiety is "a future-oriented mood state in whichone is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events"suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers thatdivides anxiety and fear. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with adifficult situation, for example at work or at school, by prompting one to copewith it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classificationof an anxiety disorder.
Physical effects of anxiety may include heart palpitations, fatigue,nausea,chest pain,shortness of breath, stomach aches,or headaches. Physically, the body prepares theorganism to deal with a threat. Blood pressure and heart rate are increased,sweating is increased, blood flow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immuneand digestivesystem functions are inhibited (the fight or flight response). Externalsigns of anxiety may include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupillarydilation. Someone suffering from anxiety might also experience it asa sense of dread or panic. Although panic attacksare not experienced by every anxiety sufferer, they are a common symptom. Panicattacks usually come without warning, and although the fear is generallyirrational, the perception of danger is very real. A person experiencing apanic attack will often feel as if he or she is about to die or pass out. Panicattacks may be confused with heart attacks therefore only a doctor candifferentiate between a panic attacks or a heart attack.
Anxiety does not only consist of physical effects, there are many emotionalones as well. They include "feelings of apprehension or dread, troubleconcentrating, feeling tense or jumpy, anticipating the worst, irritability,restlessness, watching (and waiting) for signs (and occurrences) or danger,and, feeling like your mind's gone blank"as well as "nightmares/bad dreams, obsessions about sensations, de ja vu,a trapped in your mind feeling, and feeling like everything is scary."
Cognitive effects of anxiety may include thoughts about suspected dangers,such as fear of dying. "You may...fear that the chest pains (a physicalsymptom of anxiety) are a deadly heart attack or that the shooting pains inyour head (another physical symptom of anxiety) are the result of a tumor oraneurysm. You feel an intense fear when you think of dying, or you may think ofit more often than normal, or can’t get it out of your mind."