Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults.1 These disorders fill people's lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated. Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies 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. The anxiety disorders discussed are
- panic disorder,
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder
- social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
- specific phobias
- generalized anxiety disorder
Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features, but they are all bound together by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear and dread.
Depression often accompanies anxiety disorders and, when it does, it needs to be treated as well. Symptoms of depression include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, changes in appetite or sleep, low energy, and difficulty concentrating. Most people with depression can be effectively treated with antidepressant medications, certain types of psychotherapy, or a combination of both.