What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal and expected response to a threat. It’s what helps you notice danger and keeps you safe until a threat passes. Threats are not just about physical safety. Threats can include relationship conflicts, work deadlines or expectations or fitting in with social groups. Some anxiety is necessary, even helpful. It’s what motivates people to take action or work hard to meet a goal. However, too much anxiety or anxiety that feels out of control can take a toll on health and well-being.


Anxiety might be a problem when it is stronger than you’d expect, lasts much longer than you’d expect, or comes up often or feels out of control. It can cause problems with sleep or appetite, disrupt work, and create other challenges. These anxiety problems show that someone might need help learning to cope with anxiety. Unhelpful anxiety can be harmful even when it doesn’t meet the criteria of an anxiety disorder, so any person who experiences unhelpful anxiety may see the benefits of mental health help and support.