Anxiety is variously defined as a basic human emotion, as a stable or enduring personality trait, or as a form of psychopathology when it impairs behavior and reduces quality of life. This entry covers all three approaches to human anxiety and in the process reviews theories of how anxiety develops and its impact on human well-being at various stages of life.

Anxiety as Emotion and as a Trait

Anxiety as an emotion or feeling state is characterized by worry or an internal sense of turmoil about anticipated events perceived to be threatening. Feelings of anxiety are produced by brain mechanisms involved in arousal and fear responses as well as neurophysiological systems involved in negative affect and behavioral avoidance.

Feelings of anxiety are not the same as fear, which ...

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