Anxiety is a psychological condition, an unpleasant mental state which is subjective i.e. felt only by the individual. It is a dread or an intense feeling of fear over unlikely or exaggerated issues or situations. Anxiety is a psychological phenomenon because it can only be experienced by a person; it arises for a particular situation that most others manage to remain calm in.
Anxiety, as people describe it, is a state where a person apprehensively thinks over certain situations, persons or relations which produce turmoil in the mind. e.g. fear of death while travelling in a closed train or flying in plane. Anxiety cannot be directly observed and confirmed by an observer as it is a feeling but the actions one performs due to anxiety can be clearly noticed, helping in diagnosis of this state. If anxiety exceeds limits, it can lead to unnecessary consequences and make one home bound.
Anxiety can occur for a varied number of reasons. Some people may have anxiety related to examinations while some others may experience it when they are due for delivering a stage performance. It is extremely common in young children and adolescents. Due to anxiety, one might start biting finger nails, have repeated desire for urination; have disturbed sleep, trembling, sweating, breathlessness and even fever. The person having anxiety is feeling afraid without a concrete reason for the same and cannot withstand the fear. Some people experience social anxiety wherein they are anxious to meet a group of people, especially strangers and unfamiliar people. Eventually, even if these people end up going for social gatherings, they may have palpitations, profuse sweating and a desire to run away. Obsessive compulsive disorder is another variant of anxiety in which a person tends to perform certain activities repeatedly to alleviate the anxiety, without understanding why one is performing it over again. A person suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder will do a task repeatedly, for example, constantly washing hands after touching any object, checking if doors and windows are closed, etc. This can become a nuisance as one cannot focus on other work.
Symptoms of anxiety are different in different people as it is a reaction to the nervous thinking. Some may experience restlessness, palpitations, over eating or reduced appetite, while others may express it as nail biting, extreme perspiration, mumbling in sleep, insomnia, chest pain, feeling of impending death and lack of confidence. Still others may have tachycardia, muscle weakness, fatigue, increased respiratory rate, headaches and a feeling that something grave is about to happen. A person who has extremely high levels of anxiety may go into a full blown panic attack.
Treatment of anxiety is done at multiple levels. Elimination of caffeine, tea and other stimulant food products which increase anxiety is necessary. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a very important process for healing as it involves changing the thought process with the aid of a qualified therapist. Along with this, certain anti-anxiety medications can be given for a short period of time.
Summary: Anxiety is a psychological disorder which can be experienced by the person but not confirmed by an external observer. The symptoms of anxiety are palpitations, chest pain, breathlessness, restlessness, sweating, trembling, nausea, increased heart rate, etc. It may lead to avoidant behavior for the people or situations that produce anxiety in the patient. Since it is essentially a mental state, it is said to be psychological.