Understanding Anxiety, introduction to the Issue

Anxiety is the most frequently diagnosed mental health disorder in the United States; over 40 million people experience it in any 12-month period. It most often occurs in people between the ages of 25 and 40, and it shows up with women more than men.

People talk about anxiety as fear, worry or stress. They describe it as fear or worry when their teenage children are out with their peers; their spouses are late coming home; they have to drive in the rain; or they travel by airplane. They call it stress when: they work long hours and they don’t have enough time with their children or spouse or to do the things they enjoy. When describing anxiety, they mention its physical effects, such as an upset stomach, tight shoulders, a stiff neck, a sore lower back, or a repetitive stress injury (RSI).

Anxiety can feel overwhelming and unclear. People who experience anxiety often find it helpful to describe what is happening as clearly as possible. This description includes physical symptoms as well as thoughts or behaviors. Pinpointing the precise experience can bring the person a sense of control and, in turn, can help them perceive the problem as more manageable.

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