Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting
both children and adults.
disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including
genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
estimated 19 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those
suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.
are categorized as:
Anxiety Disorder (GAD). GAD is characterized by excessive,
unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more; in adults, the anxiety
may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In addition to
chronic worry, GAD symptoms include trembling, muscular aches,
insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness, and irritability.
Disorder (OCD). In OCD, individuals are plagued by persistent,
recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect exaggerated anxiety or
fears; typical obsessions include worry about being contaminated or
fears of behaving improperly or acting violently. The obsessions may
lead an individual to perform a ritual or routine (compulsions)-such as
washing hands, repeating phrases or hoarding-to relieve the anxiety
caused by the obsession.
Disorder. People with panic disorder suffer severe attacks of
panic-which may make them feel like they are having a heart attack or
are going crazy-for no apparent reason. Symptoms include heart
palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, trembling, tingling
sensations, feeling of choking, fear of dying, fear of losing control,
and feelings of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with
agoraphobia, in which people are afraid of having a panic attack in a
place from which escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places.
Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can follow an exposure to a traumatic
event such as a sexual or physical assault, witnessing a death, the
unexpected death of a loved one, or natural disaster. There are three
main symptoms associated with PTSD: "reliving" of the traumatic event
(such as flashbacks and nightmares); avoidance behaviors (such as
avoiding places related to the trauma) and emotional numbing
(detachment from others); and physiological arousal such difficulty
sleeping, irritability or poor concentration.
Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia). Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is
characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or
behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This
intense anxiety may lead to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms
associated with this disorder include heart palpitations, faintness,
blushing and profuse sweating.
phobias. People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear
reaction to a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or
heights); the level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation,
and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. This inordinate
fear can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations.
are highly treatable with psychosocial therapies, medication, or both.
treatments used in the treatment of anxiety disorders include cognitive
behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, anxiety management and
relaxation therapies, and psychotherapy.
used to treat anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake
inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, beta
blockers, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
therapies are often utilized.
Misdiagnosis and undertreatment of anxiety disorders costs the
nation billions of dollars annually.
disorders cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, according to "The
Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders," a study commissioned by the ADAA
and based on data gathered by the association and published in the Journal
of Clinical Psychiatry.
than $22.84 billion is associated with the repeated use of healthcare
services, as those with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that
mimic physical illnesses.
with an anxiety disorder are three-to-five times more likely to go to
the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric
disorders than non-sufferers.
(This information comes from the Anxiety Disorder Association of
America - ADAA)