Anxiety is a psychological and physiological phenomenon that is at the root of many mental disorders. In this article we will see the relationship between anxiety and phobias, obsessions and panic attacks .

What do we mean by anxiety?

Today we hear the concepts of "stress and anxiety" in many areas. But really… what is stress, what is anxiety and what can it trigger if it is not properly controlled?

In simple terms, stress can be understood as a reaction of a subject when faced with an unknown situation, perceived as tense or dangerous , object/person or unpleasant situation. It can appear as:

  • Response : the individual has complete control over it, as it has an internal origin.
  • Stimulus : its origin is external and the subject has no control over it.
  • Interaction : is the relationship between the person and the context that he/she feels exceeds his/her resources and endangers his/her well-being.

Difference between anxious state and trait

When this stress "normal" is not correctly controlled it scales a degree and becomes anxiety; understanding this concept as a feeling of alarm with high intensity, long duration, of disruptive and incapacitating nature and with origin, normally, in trivial things. It is a universal emotion and serves as an adaptive response of an organism to stress.

The important thing is to differentiate between anxious state and anxious trait. The first is based on the fact of being anxious at a certain moment, as a reaction to some particular circumstance . The second is the tendency to remain anxious for a long period of time and is the usual way of dealing with everyday circumstances.

When this anxiety focuses on specific objects or situations it is known as phobia ; when it occurs in episodic attacks, it is called panic; or it may be more irregular, as in the case of obsessions.

Anxiety symptoms

The main symptoms of anxiety fall into the following categories.


  • Palpitations.
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Dry mouth .
  • Nausea and dizziness.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Muscle tension.
  • Sweating .
  • Tremors.


  • Feelings of dread and threat.
  • Irritability.
  • Panic .
  • Intrinsic terror.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Insomnia.
  • Inability to relax.

Syndromes associated with the anxious component

The 3 main anxiety syndromes are as follows.

1. Generalized anxiety disorder

It’s a concern focused on day-to-day issues. The characteristic ideation components are issues of personal danger and physical harm .

2. Social anxiety and specific phobias

It is the disproportionate fear of a specific situation, object or person. They cannot be explained or reasoned, are not under the voluntary control of the person and the fear leads to an avoidance of the feared situation. They can be both to external and internal stimuli.

3. Anxiety disorder

Shares the symptoms of generalized anxiety, there is an extreme feeling of fear and contains panic attacks ; these appear suddenly and the average duration is between 10 and 20 min, during which time the symptoms are at a very high degree of intensity.

It can be divided into two types: respiratory type (with chest pain and discomfort, air search, paresthesias and choking sensation) or non-breathing type.

Obsessions and Compulsions

On the other hand, obsessions and compulsions are thoughts, images, impulses, ruminations or fears and acts, rituals and behaviours , respectively. Something important to note is that the subject preserves his insight, knows that his obsessions are irrational, but still cannot avoid them.

The main elements that constitute an obsessive-compulsive experience are

  • The trigger that sets the obsession in motion.
  • The obsession itself.
  • Discontent and guilt.
  • Compulsive urgency , need to carry out certain behaviour.
  • Fears of disaster.
  • Exacerbated sense of responsibility.
  • Behaviors you seek safety with.
  • Avoidance of stimuli or situations that could trigger obsessions or compulsions.
  • Disruption of social functioning.
  • Resistance.

What can cause anxiety in these cases is both the loss of time invested in these obsessions and compulsions, and the physiological discomfort that this state of activation brings with it and the fact of looking bad in front of society and acting in a way that is different from what is established or from the expected standards.


Having hobbies, extracurricular activities, relaxation time and time for oneself are measures to prevent the development of some anxiety pathology.

Self-knowledge and self-observation are important to know how we react to stressful situations and the coping skills we each have, so we know if we still have areas of opportunity in which we can work or we have to develop new strategies because those we have are no longer efficient. Mental health is as important as physical health.