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Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress that everyone experiences at times. It might be those butterflies before a job interview, or worries about finances. The specific effects of anxiety vary from person to person, but the degree of anxiety you experience influences the way you think, feel and act.

Anxiety is an automatic response to anything you perceive as a threat. This automatic response is often known as a “fight-or-flight response,” and it allows you to protect yourself from anything that could harm your health and well-being.

Anxiety may make you fearful, tense or jumpy, and it may eclipse logic. For example, if you have a phobia of flying, you might understand that your thoughts are irrational, but you just can’t shake the idea that something bad will happen if you take the chance and board your flight. Anxiety can alter your behavior, too. You might avoid situations like public places or heights that have tended to trigger anxiety and panic in the past.

However, anxiety disorders are much different than simply feeling anxious. They can cause distress that’s crippling and interferes with your ability to lead a normal life.

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