Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe.
Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life – for example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal.
However, some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.
Anxiety is the main symptom of several conditions, including:
The exact cause of anxiety isn't fully understood, although it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include:
overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
the genes you inherit from your parents – you're estimated to be five times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
having a history of drug or alcohol misuse