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Anxiety Disorders: Fast Facts

Reviewed By: Steven A. King, M.D.

  • Anxiety disorders are conditions that cause a person to feel anxious or distressed for no logical reason.

  • About 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders.

  • They are among the most common mental illnesses in America.

  • Anxiety disorders account for one-third of the total mental-health bill in the United States.

  • People with anxiety disorders are three to five times more likely to visit a physician than those without them.

  • Anxiety disorders are often associated with depression, which is characterized by feelings of sadness, hopelessness and reduced energy.

  • Only one-third of people who experience symptoms actually visit a doctor.

  • Most cases of anxiety disorders that do not respond to one form of treatment will respond to another.

  • There are five major categories: generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder.

  • The exact cause of most anxiety disorders is unknown, but they most likely stem from a combination of psychological, biological, genetic and environmental factors.

  • People who are diagnosed with one form of anxiety disorder are often diagnosed with a second type.

  • Treatment for these conditions may include psychotherapy, medication or a combination of both.

  • Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood.

  • Some types affect women more often than men. However, in some disorders ‑- such as generalized anxiety disorder ‑- the percentages are nearly equal.

  • Anxiety is also a symptom of other mental health disorders. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed when anxiety is the predominant symptom that requires help from a mental health professional.

  • Psychotherapy for people with anxiety disorders may include individual or group sessions and is particularly effective for social phobia and panic disorder.

  • Medications used to treat anxiety disorders include anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants (many of which are also approved to treat anxiety) and beta blockers (medications usually used for heart conditions).



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