- Anxiety disorders and trauma- and stressor-related disorders, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are common and are associated with significant economic and social burdens. Although trauma and stressor exposure are recognized as a risk factors for development of anxiety disorders and trauma or stressor exposure is recognized as essential for diagnosis of PTSD, the mechanisms through which trauma and stressor exposure lead to these disorders are not well characterized. An improved understanding of the mechanisms through which trauma or stressor exposure leads to development and persistence of anxiety disorders or PTSD may result in novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of these disorders. Here, we review the current state-of-the-art theories, with respect to mechanisms through which stressor exposure leads to acute or chronic exaggeration of avoidance or anxiety-like defensive behavioral responses and fear, endophenotypes in both anxiety disorders and trauma- and stressor-related psychiatric disorders. In this chapter, we will explore physiological responses and neural circuits involved in the development of acute and chronic exaggeration of anxiety-like defensive behavioral responses and fear states, focusing on the role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis and glucocorticoid hormones.