What is ANXIETY?

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

a mood state characterized by worry, apprehension, and somatic symptoms. Similar to the tension caused when an individual anticipates impending danger, catastrophe, or misfortune. The threat the person is responding to may be real or imagined or internal or external. It may be an identifiable (cued) situation or a more vague fear of the unknown (uncued). The body often mobilizes itself to meet the threat, whether this is real or imagined: Muscles become tense, breathing becomes faster, and the heart beats more rapidly. Anxiety may be distinguished from real fear both conceptually and physiologically, although the two terms are often mistakenly used interchangeably in everyday language. See also acute anxiety- anticipatory anxiety- generalized anxiety disorder- separation anxiety- social anxiety.

ANXIETY: "The student experienced anxiety before taking the test because he or she was certain that failure was a possibility."

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