Anxiety, which can be described as a state of excessive worry, apprehension and restlessness, is one of the states most commonly experienced by people. When confronted with a threat, people feel a high level of apprehension. At the same time fight or flight reactions set in when the nervous system is strongly stimulated. These establish themselves as sweating, shivering, hot flushes, numbness, palpitations, a feeling of suffocation, alienation. They are produced by the sympathetic nervous system whose task is to deal with danger.
In some cases excessive apprehension can be experienced even though there is no major or significant threat or danger. In psychiatry this state of non-functional apprehension is dealt with under the heading of anxiety disorders. Panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder and compulsive disorder are the most frequently encountered types of anxiety. The long-term recurrent state of anxiety in this disorder makes life intolerable and adversely affects professional, family and social functions.
Anxiety disorders are treated with drugs and/or psychotherapy methods. The likelihood of the treatment being successful is fairly high. Psychotherapy aims at changing the incorrect thoughts, beliefs and interpretations that are the source of the anxiety, keeping these at a functional level and removing the tendency towards avoidance which is predominantly behaviour in sufferers.