Anxiety, Anxiety Disorders, and Stress-Related Illness
ANXIETY IS A VAGUE FEELING of dread or apprehension; it is a response to external or internal stimuli that can have behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and physical symptoms. Anxiety is distinguished from fear, which is feeling afraid or threatened by a clearly identifiable external stimulus that represents danger to the person. Anxiety is unavoidable in life and can serve many positive functions such as motivating the person to take ac-tion to solve a problem or to resolve a crisis. It is considered normal when it is appropriate to the situation and dissipates when the situation has been resolved.
Anxiety disorders comprise a group of conditions that share a key feature of excessive anxiety with ensuing behavioral, emotional, cogni-tive, and physiologic responses. Clients suffering from anxiety disorders can demonstrate unusual behaviors such as panic without reason, unwar-ranted fear of objects or life conditions, uncontrollable repetitive actions, reexperiencing of traumatic events, or unexplainable or overwhelming worry. They experience significant distress over time, and the disordersignificantly impairs their daily routines, social lives, and occupational functioning.