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What is anxiety sensitivity?

Anxiety sensitivity is a personality trait that increases the risk for anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder. Anxiety sensitivity is a tendency to misinterpret the sensations that accompany anxiety -- irregular breathing, heart palpitations, trembling, flushing, sweating, stomach rumbling -- as indications of imminent physical danger or serious illness ("I'm going to have a heart attack" or "I'm going to faint"), loss of control ("I can't concentrate -- I'm going crazy"), or humiliating social rejection ("Everyone will notice that I'm trembling"). Anxiety sensitivity can show up in children as young as age 6. It can be innate or learned through observation or misinformation. For example, anxiety sensitivity could arise from a parent telling a child that too fast a heartbeat could be fatal.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.