There are a number of forms of anxiety, including worry, obsessions and compulsions, post traumatic stress, phobias, and panic disorders. Anxiety is one of the most torturous experiences of humankind. Anxiety is basically the experience of fear, as one would have if a mountain lion jumped out of the woods in pursuit, but without the mountain lion.
Everyone experiences anxiety, but people who live with it day in and day out have to work much harder than everyone else to live life. People who live
with anxiety may have trouble sleeping, may feel irritable and lash out at family and friends, may be preoccupied with intrusive thoughts or images of a past or future horror.
People with phobias may work hard to set up their lives so that whatever scares them can be avoided. People who have panic attacks may fear having a panic attack so much that they limit their lives to minimize the likelihood.
Panic attacks involve not only the sensation of panic, but heart palpitations, trouble breathing, sweating, feeling hot, and clammy and exhaustion afterward. Anxiety and depression break up an enormous number of relationships, because the symptoms are not just hard for the person who experiences them, but for those around them.
Most people with anxiety find at least some relief when they learn techniques they can use with themselves, such as relaxation breathing and imaging, reducing or eliminating stimulants from their diet, regular aerobic exercise, meditation, regular healthy meals, strength training, learning to reduce anxiety as it is building, rather than waiting until it is very strong, and so forth.
Most anxious people also benefit from psychotherapy, because when people avoid feeling or expressing feelings, there is a transformation of those feelings in the body and one of the possible outcomes is anxiety (or depression, or physical pain/illness). When the feelings are encouraged in therapy, the anxiety is transformed back into the feelings, and released.
Part of therapy may involve changing anxious patterns of thoughts. Anxious people generate more anxiety by thinking about all the terrible things that could happen. This kind of thinking would make anyone anxious, and anxious people are masters at it.
Sometimes medication is needed, at least temporarily, or intermittenly to treat anxiety, while other methods are being integrated. A few people have chemical imbalances that require life-long management with any or all these treatments.
There is lots of help for anxiety; the unfortunate part is that anxious people have to fight the fear of seeking help in order to get it.