What is anxiety?

It is common to worry or feel nervous at work or in your personal life, especially when faced with a big event such as giving an important presentation, attending a wedding or taking a big exam. However, when anxiety becomes severe and interferes with everyday living, it may signal an anxiety disorder.


There are different types of anxiety disorders, each with a different set of symptoms.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Frequently worrying about many issues including health, money and everyday tasks
  • “Catastrophizing”; thinking or imagining the worst things that could happen
  • Feeling tense, both emotionally and physically
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Recurrent, unwanted and intrusive thoughts
  • Rituals (otherwise known as compulsions) in reaction to these thoughts
  • Strict schedules or routines
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Often follows a terrifying, traumatic event
  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event
  • Nightmares about the traumatic event
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling irritable and easily startled
Social Anxiety Disorder
  • Feeling excessively nervous or self-conscious in social situations
  • Fear of being judged by others
  • Choosing to be alone rather than interacting with others


There are many ways to treat anxiety. Use the information below as a guide to help you understand your treatment options. Always speak with your doctor to determine the best treatment for you.

Psychological Counseling

Counseling, also known as talk therapy, can be an effective way to treat anxiety. It involves regular visits with a mental health professional who will help you learn ways to cope with stress, manage your symptoms and improve your relationships. It is important to feel comfortable and safe with your mental health professional, and you may need to talk with a few to find one who feels right.

Anti-Anxiety Medication

Anti-anxiety medication can be an effective tool in helping to treat anxiety. It works by helping to balance chemicals in the brain, which can help you feel more like yourself again.

Tips about anti-anxiety medication
  • Keep taking your medication as prescribed. Most side effects are minor and temporary. Discuss any side effects with your doctor so you can decide together if the treatment is right for you.
  • Some anti-anxiety medications may take time to work. You may not feel better immediately, so it is important to give them time.1
  • Anti-anxiety medications are most effective when taken at the same time each day.2 Try setting an alarm, using a pill box or taking your medication with regular activities to help make it a part of your daily routine.

Find out if you may have anxiety

This screening can help determine if you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety. We encourage you to share your results with your health care provider.

Take this screening >

1 Mental Health Medications. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
2 General Medication Guidelines. The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. (2014)

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