Article Provided by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year1 causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.
Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment right away.
This article will:
- Describe the symptoms of anxiety disorders
- Explain the role of research in understanding the causes of these conditions
- Describe effective treatments
- Help you learn how to obtain treatment and work with a doctor or therapist
- Suggest ways to make treatment more effective
The following anxiety disorders are discussed in this article:
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
- Specific phobias
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms, but all the symptoms cluster around excessive, irrational fear and dread.