"When your body perceives a potential stressor (whether real or imagined) it reacts by putting your body on alert. This can produce feelings of fear, worry, concern, apprehension, unease, agitation, and/or tension along with somatic symptoms such as sleeplessness, change in appetite or rapid heartbeat.
Essentially, it"s an alarm system that serves to keep us safe.
Every parent knows the feeling of seeing their child run away from them toward a parking lot and the way their whole body reacts to keep them safe. This response serves to tell us, "WARNING! DANGER!"
An anxiety disorder is when this alarm system somehow gets broken and is alerting us more often than is helpful.
This can express itself in many different ways. The DSM 5 (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders 5th edition) classifies these issues as "Anxiety Disorders" because they each have their roots in a malfunctioning alarm system."
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