What Is an Anxious Person?

Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2022
What Is an Anxious Person?
An anxious person typically has the following characteristics, which include a sense of constant fear, dread, and worry, as well as feeling tense or nervous.

An anxious person may have characteristics, such as:

  • A sense of constant dread, fear, and worry about impending doom or a misfortune
  • Some may avoid talking to others for the fear of being judged, considered weak, or misunderstood
  • Feels ashamed, embarrassed, or blame themselves
  • Always tense and nervous
  • Loses touch with reality, feels that the world is either speeding up or slowing down
  • Low mood, sometimes pessimistic, lack of self-esteem
  • Rumination (repeatedly thinks about a problem or a situation with no self-control)

What is anxiety?

Everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another. It is basic human nature and a part of the routine stressful life. It is very natural to fear or worry about new or challenging situations, such as an examination, a date, or a work presentation.

Anxiety is a sense of worry, fear, dread, uneasiness, nervousness, and apprehensiveness about impending misfortune or anticipated trouble, and may be mild or severe.

  • Mild anxiety is not a threat to life but may hold one back in life due to fear of embarrassment, making a mistake, losing something, or being rejected. Sometimes, mild anxiety is beneficial because it pushes to work on the task at hand.
  • Intense anxiety may lead to extreme worries, panic attacks, and failures and negatively affects daily life activities and happiness.

Anxiety disorders are common mental health issues, involving extreme or intense overwhelming and worsening anxiety accompanied by other physical and mental symptoms.

Anxiety can occur in people of all age groups, and about 30 percent of adults are affected at some point in their lives.

What causes anxiety disorders?

There is no single well-established cause known; however, it could be a combination of several factors including genetics, brain abnormalities, stressful life circumstances, and environmental triggers.

Predisposing factors of anxiety disorder

  • A family history of mental health issues (genetic predisposition)
  • Personality traits, such as shy and reserved people are more prone
  • Traumatic life events (death or separation of a loved one, conflicts, financial crisis)
  • Upbringing or learned behavior (violence or debates in the family)
  • Childhood trauma, physical or sexual abuse (neglect, loss of a parent)
  • Chronic life-threatening diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, heart diseases
  • Other mental health conditions, such as depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Alcohol or recreational drug abuse
  • Certain psychiatric medications
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Drug dependence
  • Low self-esteem

9 signs and symptoms of anxiety

  1. Palpitations (rapid and racing heartbeat)
  2. Restlessness
  3. Increased sweating
  4. Fatigue
  5. Difficulty concentrating
  6. Irritability
  7. Constant and uncontrollable worries
  8. Insomnia
  9. Unsatisfied sleep

Other accompanying symptoms


A Visual Guide to Generalized Anxiety Disorder See Slideshow

7 types of anxiety disorders

  1. Obsessive-compulsive disorder: A person suffers from obsessions (negative thoughts) and compulsions (constantly trying to relieve the anxiety).
  2. Phobias:
    • Intense fears of specific things, such as animals, darkness, crowded places, height, water, and flying.
    • People tend to avoid things or situations they have a phobia for.
  3. Social anxiety disorder (social phobia):
    • Persistent fear of being judged or evaluated by others when speaking in a group or social gatherings.
    • Some kids or teens may suffer from an extreme form of social anxiety called selective mutism, wherein they are completely unable to speak in front of others though having a normal language skill.
    • Some may have agoraphobia, which is the fear of using public transport or being in the crowd, alone or in closed spaces.
  4. Panic disorder:
    • Episodes of sudden, unexpected, and repeated anxiety attacks that occur with no obvious reasons along with physical symptoms, such as excessive perspiration, chest pain, numbness, and palpitations.
    • These attacks come and go quickly and are usually triggered by feared situations or objects.
  5. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD):
    • A common anxiety disorder, wherein people tend to become anxious almost every day for at least six months about routine activities, such as school, job performance, and relationships.
    • Constant worries are felt like an overwhelming burden and every situation seems to be out of control.
    • Persistent worries about trivial matters.
  6. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD):
    • A result of traumatic or frightening past experiences.
    • People may suffer from nightmares, flashbacks, and be extremely anxious when thinking or witnessing another situation similar to the past traumatic event.
  7. Separation anxiety disorder: A person is fearful or anxious about getting separated from a loved one, such as a parent, a spouse, or a friend with no apparent reason.

How are anxiety disorders treated?

Anxiety disorders are treatable with effective treatment helping most people lead normal productive lives.

A mental health expert or a therapist can evaluate the symptoms, diagnose the specific type of anxiety disorder, and create a treatment plan accordingly.

  • Cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT): A type of talk therapy that provides support and guidance to deal with stress and teaches new skills to manage anxiety episodes.
  • Counseling: One should talk to their family, friends, or a loved one and share their thoughts, fears, and worries.
  • Medications: Includes anti-anxiety medicines and antidepressants that provide significant relief from anxiety.

Techniques that help self-cope and make treatment more effective are:

  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Stay physically active
  • Avoid or quit smoking
  • Avoid alcohol consumption
  • Limit caffeine intake
  • Stay away from stress
  • Get a good sleep
  • Practice meditation and deep breathing exercises
  • Journaling, writing down thoughts while one is about to have an anxiety attack help focus on the problem at hand and avoids catastrophizing

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Medically Reviewed on 2/1/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

KidsHealth. Anxiety Disorders. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/anxiety.html

MedlinePlus. Anxiety. https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html

American Psychiatric Association. What are Anxiety Disorders. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders

National Institute of Mental Health. Anxiety Disorders. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

Cleveland Clinic. Anxiety Disorders. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9536-anxiety-disorders