Everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time. Such things as speaking in front of a crowd right before a big event, taking an exam, or experiencing financial difficulties often lead to feelings of strong anxiety. For some people, anxiety becomes so frequent or forceful, that it takes over their lives. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18% of adults have some type of anxiety disorder. Only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
Anxiety, similar to other mental illnesses, negatively affects one's thoughts, moods, and behaviors. This in turn, affects the way someone perceives the people and experiences around them. Anxiety comes in many forms, from panic attacks, to phobias, to social anxiety.
Anxiety disorder is typically characterized by excessive fear, worry, tension, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, sweating, and negative thoughts about oneself or the future. This level of anxiety typically has negative behavioral and emotional consequences.
Obsessive-compulsive disorders are characterized by obsessive, intrusive thoughts that trigger compulsive behaviors. Engaging in these behaviors tends to alleviate the anxiety associated with the obsessive thoughts. For instance, someone constantly worried about germs may repeatedly wash their hands, not touch public surfaces, or use wipes or gloves in excess. The removal of the anxious feelings reinforces the compulsive behavior.