Putting It Together: Anxiety Disorders

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In summary, anxiety disorders are often severe chronic conditions, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event. Anxiety triggers are prone to flare up at times of high stress and are frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms such as headache, sweating, muscle spasms, tachycardia, palpitations, and hypertension, which in some cases lead to fatigue.

In casual discourse the words anxiety and fear are often used interchangeably; in clinical usage, they have distinct meanings: anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional state for which the cause is either not readily identified or perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable, whereas fear is an emotional and physiological response to a recognized external threat. As you learned in this module, the umbrella term anxiety disorder refers to a number of specific disorders that include fears (phobias) or anxiety symptoms. The prognosis varies on the severity of each case and utilization of treatment for each individual.