An unpleasant emotional state ranging from mild unease to intense fear. Various physical symptoms are associated with anxiety; the most common include palpitations, chest pains, a feeling of tightness in the chest, and a tendency to overbreathe (see hyperventilation). Muscle tension leads to headaches and back pains. Gastrointestinal symptoms include dry mouth, bloating, diarrhoea, nausea, and difficulty in swallowing. Other symptoms include sweating, blushing, pallor, lightheadedness, and a frequent need to urinate or defaecate. Anxiety is a normal response to stressful situations and prepares the mind and body to respond effectively. However, anxiety that occurs without reason may be a symptom of an anxiety disorder or another psychological disorder such as depression. People suffering from anxiety may be helped by counselling or psychotherapy. If there is an underlying disorder such as depression, treatment with antianxiety drugs can help. Antianxiety drugs are used for short-term control of symptoms but are avoided for long-term treatment because they are addictive.


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