Anxiety States

Understanding Anxiety States

Anxiety is a mental health condition that can have a significant effect on an individual’s ability to function. It is often characterized by excessive worries, fear, or apprehension that can interfere with daily activities. Additionally, a person experiencing severe anxiety may have physical symptoms like chest pain or palpitations.

When trying to identify if someone is currently experiencing an anxiety state, clinicians will often look at current symptoms, their intensity, and how long they have been present. Anxiety states can range from mild to severe and can vary in intensity over time. Below is a basic overview of the different types of anxiety states that can be seen in a person.

Mild Anxiety State

A mild anxiety state is characterized by feelings of nervousness, uneasiness, and worry. These feelings can interfere with the ability to think clearly and reason logically, but are not disabling. People with a mild anxiety state may also experience physical symptoms like increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, or headache.

Moderate Anxiety State

A moderate anxiety state is more intense and disabling than a mild anxiety state. It can include strong feelings of fear, apprehension, and panic. Physical and cognitive symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, hypervigilance, and muscle tension. People with a moderate anxiety state may also feel irritable, and have difficulty sleeping.

Severe Anxiety State

A severe anxiety state is the most intense form of anxiety state. It is marked by an overwhelming sense of terror, panic, and fear. Cognitively, a person may have difficulty concentrating or paying attention, racing thoughts, and distorted reality. Physical symptoms can include chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and difficulty breathing.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a type of anxiety that is characterized by persistent and excessive worries and fear over a variety of situations or activities. People with GAD can experience intense physical symptoms like headaches, muscle tension, trembling, and palpitations. Additionally, cognitive symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, racing thoughts, and poor decision-making.


A phobia is an intense fear of a specific object, activity, or situation. People with a phobia may experience a severe anxiety state when exposed to the object of their fear, and can go to great lengths to avoid it. Common phobia types include social phobia (fear of social situations), agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), and claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces).

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurrent and sudden episodes of intense fear or terror. People with panic disorder may experience physical symptoms like chest pain, palpitations, dizziness, and difficulty breathing. Cognitively, they may have racing thoughts, distortions in reality, and difficulty concentrating. Panic disorder can lead to significant impairment in daily functioning.