What is Anxiety?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines anxiety disorders as involving more than temporary worry or fear. Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, it might become a medical disorder. Anxiety disorders form a category of mental health diagnoses that lead to excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. These disorders alter how a person processes emotions and behave, also causing physical symptoms. Mild anxiety might be vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety may seriously affect day-to-day living. Fear, stress, and anxiety are "normal feelings and experiences" but they are completely different from suffering from any of the diagnosable disorders.

 

There are several different types of anxiety disorders. Examples include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Symptoms of Anxiety

For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Phobia-related disorders Symptoms

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge

  • Being easily fatigued

  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank

  • Being irritable

  • Having muscle tension

  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

  • Heart palpitations, a pounding heartbeat, or an accelerated heart rate

  • Sweating

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering or choking

  • Feelings of impending doom

  • Feelings of being out of control

Panic Disorder Symptoms

  • May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation

  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation

  • Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation

  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety

  • Social anxiety disorder and general intense fear of, or anxiety toward, social or performance situations.

  • Specific phobia and intense fear of, or feel intense anxiety about, specific types of objects or situations. 

  • Agoraphobia where often avoid situations that they think being able to leave might be difficult or impossible in the event they have panic-like reactions or other embarrassing symptoms. 

  • Separation anxiety disorders have fears about being parted from people to whom they are attached. ​

Anxiety Facts & Stats

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US.

  • 40 million adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder.

  • 40% of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.

  • Anxiety is more prevalent in developed countries and among women.

The PTB Approach

Mental Health

Objective Indication

Anxiety is not a simple diagnosis as it takes many forms and can also accompany other medical conditions. To diagnose anxiety, a complete physical examination is essential. This helps your doctor discover or rule out other illnesses that may be causing your symptoms or that may be masked by the symptoms. A complete personal history is also necessary for your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.

There is a growing body of research suggesting that EEG-related technologies can provide a complementary view of brain function alongside standard screenings and assessments measuring anxiety. EEG studies have found a link between hemispheric asymmetry in frontal regions of the cortex and anxiety symptoms. 

Anxiety and F3/F4 Alpha Power

EEG studies have shown a link between hemispheric asymmetry in frontal regions of the cortex and anxiety symptoms suggesting anxiety is meaningfully related to relative frontal EEG asymmetry at rest (F3/F4 <1).

 

Research shows an atypical pattern of resting frontal cortical asymmetry can serve as a risk factor for the development of depression or other emotion-related disturbances where hemispheric specialization for cortical systems mediates motivational and emotional processes.  

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