Is anxiety classified as a disease or a medical condition? Find out what the DSM-5 says about anxiety disorders.

No, anxiety is not a disease, per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5). Anxiety is unsubstantiated fear or worry about a specific situation. Anxiety disorders are mental conditions that cause people excessive and extreme worry, fear and stress. Having anxiety does not mean someone has an anxiety disorder. Feeling anxious about a specific situation is common, but persistent anxiousness is what qualifies as a medical condition.

However, anxiety disorder is not a disease, either. The DSM-5 distinguishes disease from disorder by classifying disease as a disorder where the genesis is known. The DSM-5 classifies a disorder as a group of connected symptoms that do not have a known origin. Anxiety, according to the DSM-5, is considered a disorder since it involves many symptoms that do not have specific originations.

Is Anxiety a Medical Condition?

Anxiety on its own is not a medical condition but anxiety disorder is. Having anxiety disorder causes people to have negative views of themselves, their relationships with other people and other aspects of their life.


Kupfer, David. J. “Anxiety and DSM-5.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, September 17, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2019.

Parekh, Ranna, M.D., M.P.H. “What Are Anxiety Disorders?” American Psychiatric Association, January 2017. Accessed February 20, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.