Anxiety Causes, Statistics, Signs, Symptoms & Side Effects

What is Anxiety?

While it may be normal for people to experience anxiety from time to time and in varying circumstances, anxiety can become problematic when fears or worries become constant, overwhelming and debilitating to living normal life. When anxiety becomes distressing to the point where an individual begins to suffer in the various aspects of their lives, it may fall under a psychiatric classification of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety can present in several forms, such as social anxiety, post-traumatic stress, obsessive-compulsive, or even phobias. The following are the main categories of anxiety disorders that are typically seen:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – Characterized by unrealistic worry or tension with little provocation.
  • Panic disorder – Feeling of terror that occur rapidly and repeatedly with little warning. Often includes panic attacks.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder – A condition that will usually arise following a traumatic event.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder – The development of certain rituals and routines stemmed from constant thoughts or fears.
  • Social anxiety disorder – Overwhelming self-consciousness about typical social situations.
  • Phobias – Intense fear of a specific situation or object.

Anxiety can be emotionally, physically, and psychologically constricting. This can cause any man, woman, adolescent, or child who struggles with a form of anxiety to feel helpless and vulnerable in the distressing world that surrounds them. Especially as anxiety, can directly impact one’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. If you or a loved one has felt the bindings of anxiety, it is important that you seek the necessary professional help you need to heal from your suffering.

Anxiety Statistics

Gathering more information about anxiety is helpful in better understanding this condition and those who it can potentially affect. The following are important statistics about anxiety that give greater insight into details about how sufferers are impacted:

  • Recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans are affected by one or more anxiety disorder [1].
  • Anxiety has been linked and perpetuated by a person’s own pessimistic outcome expectancy and how they cope with feedback negativity [2].
  • Neural circuitry involved the amygdale and hippocampi (parts of the brain) are thought to underlie anxiety [3].
  • In the United States, women are 60% more likely than men to experience an anxiety disorder over their lifetime [4].
  • Of the number of individuals that are suffering with anxiety, only about 14.3% are currently enrolled in an effective treatment [4].
  • About 50% of children who experienced anxiety will develop an anxiety disorder in their adulthood [4].

Causes of Anxiety

While there is not a single factor that is responsible for causing anxiety, there may be several issues that can contribute to the development of anxiety. For example, anxiety can be triggered in men or women that have experienced a traumatic event or circumstance. Other individuals may be biologically susceptible to having anxiety due to genetic factors or a family history of anxiety disorders. Underlying medical conditions can also lead to increased anxiety as can the use of certain medications. Anxiety is frequently associated with other co-occurring disorders, such as drug addiction or eating disorders. Because of the complex nature of this mental health disorder, it is recommended that professional help be sought to effectively heal from anxiety.

Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety, or anxiety disorders, can be manifested through several signs and symptoms. The severity of the symptoms can be widely varied, greatly depending on the individual, though common symptoms may be observed. The following are possible symptoms of anxiety:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tension headaches
  • Panic attacks
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Hallucinations
  • Nightmares
  • Fear of dying
  • Profuse sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Being easily startled

If you or your loved one has been experiencing any of these above symptoms as a result of anxiety, consider seeking support from an anxiety professional that can help guide you through this difficult time period in your life.

Anxiety Effects

Living with anxiety or an anxiety disorder can have numerous ramifications that can cause everyday living to become uncomfortable, painful and burdening. If anxiety is left untreated or not properly managed, it can escalate into much more damaging and chronic symptoms. No matter the length of time one might be suffering from anxiety, the effects can be incapacitating if not treated or addressed professionally. Understanding how anxiety may affect the different aspects of your life may encourage you to get the help you need and deserve. The following are some of the effects of anxiety:

Physical Effects – Anxiety can take a toll on you physically. These are some physical effects that may be experienced:

  • Suicidal ideations
  • Increased weakness
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol
  • Nightmares
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension
  • Fatigue

Psychological Effects – Anxiety will have a monumental effect on your mental health, particularly if you are lacking adequate support or professional help. Some of the psychological effects that may be experienced include:

  • Feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness
  • Uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts
  • Flashbacks of traumatic circumstances
  • Increased feelings of depression
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or in despair
  • Identify changes
  • Regression
  • Emotional detachment

Finally, anxiety can have negative consequences on your social life. Social effects of anxiety include:

  • Decrease in performance at work or school
  • Isolation from loved ones
  • Avoidance of social situations or any events that may be a “trigger” of the anxiety
  • Lack of enjoyment in hobbies or activities once enjoyed

Anxiety Treatment

If you or a loved one has been living in a daily struggle with anxiety, you may feel overwhelmed as you struggle through the many effects of this mental health disorder. Living with anxiety may be preventing you from enjoying a life you have once enjoyed, though you can find hope and healing once again. By seeking the appropriate help and care you need, you can find the resources to address your anxiety in a healthy way. Attempting to deal with your anxiety alone can possibly further perpetuate you into fear or isolation. An anxiety treatment center can provide the tools and resources you need to recover and heal from any form of an anxiety disorder.


[1]: Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Merikangas KR, Walters EE (June 2005). “Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication”. Arch. Gen. Psychiatry 62 (6): 617–27. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.617. PMC 2847357. PMID 15939839.

[2]: Gu, R.,Huang, Y., Luo., Y. Anxiety and Feedback negativity.(2010).Psychophysiology, 47, 961–967.

[3]: Zald, D.H.; Pardo, JV (1997). “Emotion, olfaction, and the human amygdala: amygdala activation during aversive olfactory stimulation”. Proc Nat’l Acad Sci (USA) 94 (8): 4119–24. doi:10.1073/pnas.94.8.4119. PMC 20578. PMID 9108115.


Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on, Substance Abuse Online Help