Anxiety and anxiety disorders are incredibly common. It is said that 1 in 3 people experience at least one anxiety disorder over the course of their lifetime. And more often than not, someone that suffers from one disorder will suffer from more than one.
And there are quite a few mental health disorders that fall under the greater anxiety umbrella:
Most anxiety isn’t a disorder at all — anxiety is just fear about something that’s yet to come. Fear is adaptive; it’s what tells us to run away from the bad guy, to stay out of oncoming traffic or to step back from the mountain edge. While fear is what we experience in these moments, anxiety is more anticipatory — it’s the worry, the uneasy apprehension felt ahead of time.
Evolutionarily speaking, it can be helpful to expect and prepare for something bad that’s on its way, or take steps to avoid a dangerous situation. But our brains have been a long time in the making, and the threats (or perceived threats via thoughts) we experience in the modern world are very different from what our ancestors would’ve been up against. This leads to a lot of false alarms. Have our brains evolved as much as the sheer volume of things to think about have evolved?
All anxiety disorders are essentially about an ineffective coping with a fear, especially when the behaviours a person is engaging in to cope (eg excess worry, excess safety behaviors, etc) are hurting. What sets the different disorders apart is what that fear stimulus is (a past trauma, a specific phobia, general life) and what the response is (flashbacks, compulsive behaviors, excessive worrying).