A feeling of stress, panic or fear that affects everyday life physically and psychologically is known as anxiety. Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause constant and overwhelming anxiety and fear.

The prevalence of anxiety disorders in India is around 2.57% and it is the sixth-largest contributor of years lived with disability. Examples of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (social phobia), and separation anxiety disorder. A person can have more than one anxiety disorder and sometimes they may result from a medical condition requiring treatment.

What are the signs of anxiety?

Anxiety may make it difficult to finish daily tasks and leads ignorance of common situations. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:

Common anxiety signs and symptoms include:

  • Feeling Fearful: A feeling of fear at events unjustifiable, is the most common symptom of any anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders may be caused as a result of certain fear responses in the brain being stronger and easier to trigger. As a result, people with anxiety feel fear about potential problems much more easily and regularly than people without anxiety.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: This is a common symptom in anxiety disorder since a person may be so focused on that worrisome topic that they won’t pay attention to work or other important things. Sometimes, a person may also feel like his/her ‘mind going blank’ and they can’t focus on anything at all.
  • Jitteriness: Anxiety may make a person feel jittery, on edge, or physically shaken. This is because anxiety makes muscles tenser because of the adrenaline release.
  • Sleep Problems (Insomnia): The constant worry and anxiety may make it difficult or impossible for people to fall asleep. Sleep problems may lead to daily fatigue and seriously affects the quality of life.

What are the different types of anxiety disorders?

Agoraphobia – Type of anxiety disorder with a fear of panic-causing places or situations that might make a person feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.

Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition – symptoms are directly caused due to physical health problem.
Generalized anxiety disorder – persistent and excessive anxiety leading to a constant worry about activities or events, including ordinary, routine issues.

Panic disorder – A person undergoing repeated episodes of intense anxiety and fear or terror reaching its peak within minutes (panic attacks). This may be accompanied by shortness of breath, chest pain, a sense of doom, or a rapid, or pounding heart (heart palpitations).

Selective mutism – Occurring in children, selective mutism is characterized by the consistent failure of a child to remain silent in certain situations, such as school or family functions while speaking in other situations, such as home with close family members.
Separation anxiety disorder – A childhood anxiety disorder that is related to the separation from parents or others with parental roles.

Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) – Feeling highly anxious while attending social situations that may result owing to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness, because of concern about being judged or viewed in a negative light by others.

When should a doctor be consulted?

Consult a doctor if:

  • A person is worrying so much that it interferes with work, relationships or other aspects of life
  • If the anxiety is upsetting and difficult to control
  • A feeling of depression, with alcohol trouble or drug use, or presence of other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • In case a person thinks the anxiety is linked to a physical illness
  • In case of suicidal thoughts or behaviours — consult a doctor immediately.

How can anxiety disorders be treated?

There are few treatment options that can be tried if a person is living with anxiety. They could do this on their own. Alternatively, therapy or medication or a combination of both may also be prescribed.

Inculcating some habits at home may help in reduction of anxiety:

  • Reduce caffeine intake (coffee, tea)
  • Get enough sleep
  • Practise daily exercise routines
  • Distract yourself
  • Incorporate deep breathing techniques
  • Practicing meditation
  • These strategies do not cure anxiety, helps keep it at manageable levels.


  1. Manjunatha, Narayana; Jayasankar, Pavithra1; Suhas, Satish; Rao, Girish N.2,; Gopalkrishna, Gururaj2; Varghese, Mathew1; Benegal, Vivek3; NMHS National Collaborators Group. Prevalence and its correlates of anxiety disorders from India’s National Mental Health Survey 2016. Indian Journal of Psychiatry 64(2):p 138-142, Mar–Apr 2022.
  2. WebMD Editorial Contributors. Anxiety: Symptoms and Signs. December 2023.
  3. Anxiety Disorders. December 2023.

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