What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday tasks or events, or may be specific to certain objects or rituals. People with anxiety disorders respond to certain things or situations with fear and dread, as well as physical signs of anxiety such as a pounding heart and sweating. For people with anxiety disorders, worry and fear are constant and overwhelming, and can be crippling. Anxiety is a normal human emotion, however, anxiety disorders can cause such distress that it interferes with a person's ability to lead a normal life.
Several types of anxiety disorders exist:
  • Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
  • Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. 
  • Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). 
  • Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. 
  • Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that's excessive for the child's developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
  • Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you're exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. 
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of abusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
  • Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don't meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
Risk factors
  • Trauma
  • Stress due to an illness
  • Stress buildup
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Having blood relatives with an anxiety disorder
  • Drugs or alcohol
Diagnosis may include:
  • Psychological evaluation of thoughts, feelings and behavior to help pinpoint a diagnosis and check for related complications. 
  • Comparison of symptoms to the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose an anxiety disorder.  
The two main treatments for anxiety disorders are psychotherapy and medications. A combination of the two may be beneficial. 
  • Anxiety disorders affect about 40 million adult Americans.
  • They are the most common mental illnesses in the U.S. 
anxiety disorders about

  • "Anxiety Disorders." Anxiety Disorders | Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.
  • "Anxiety." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 31 Dec. 2015. Web. 07 May 2017.
  • "Anxiety." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 04 Oct. 2013. Web. 07 May 2017.
  • "Anxiety | Cleveland Clinic: Health Library." Cleveland Clinic. Cleveland Clinic, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

From Our Community: I won't let anxiety take control (Journal Entry)
Author: Melanie S.
melanie journal anxiety disorders about



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