Everyone feels nervous every now and again, it’s a normal emotion. Many feel nervous when faced with a problem at work, making an important decision or taking a test. But, anxiety disorders are different. They are a group of mental illnesses that can cause so much distress that your whole life can be disrupted.

It’s estimated that in any given year, roughly 18 percent of the population suffers from anxiety disorders. Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders. There are some conditions that are related to anxiety disorders with some symptoms that overlap. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive disorder (OCD) and adjustment disorder may also be included in your diagnosis.

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PTSD symptoms will usually start soon after the triggering event, though in some rare cases they may not appear until months or even years later. They can also come and go over many years. There are four types of symptoms of PTSD.

All the anxiety disorders share some of the same general symptoms. If you are experiencing anything within the anxiety family, you may feel:

  • Panic, fear or uneasiness
  • Not being able to stay calm
  • Sleep problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tense muscles
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cold, sweaty, numb, or tingling hands and/or feet

Like other forms of mental illness, these disorders may stem from a combination of things. These things can include changes in your brain and environmental stressors. Genetics may even play a part. Anxiety disorders can run in families and be linked to faulty circuits in the brain the control fear.