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Help With Anxiety Disorders

Curated and updated for the community by APA

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention.

Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect more than 25 million Americans. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.

See definition, symptoms, & treatment

  • Sep 20, 2019
More Evidence of the Benefits of Trees in Urban Areas

Previous research has tied people’s exposure to natural environments, such as urban green spaces, to better health and mental health. A new study looks at whether a specific type of green space— trees, grass or low-lying vegetation— provides benefits.

  • Sep 18, 2019
Yoga as a Mental Health Treatment

In a recent review in the journal Focus, Maren Nyer, Ph.D., and colleagues highlight the mounting evidence that yoga is helpful for a variety of mental health conditions and support integrating yoga into conventional mental health treatment.

  • Aug 29, 2019
Team Sports May Help Build Resilience After Trauma

Traumatic and other negative experiences in childhood can have lasting effects, including increased chances of physical health issues and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. A new study finds that among people who had adverse childhood experiences, participation in sports during adolescence is associated with better adult mental health

Upcoming Events
Feb
2019
01
Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Feb
2019
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Mental Health America

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2019
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Find local events and support from NAMI
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

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2019
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Active Minds

Feb
2019
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Find a local support group - ADAA
  • Fri,  Feb  01 - Thur,  Feb  28

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Mar
2019
28
Anxiety and Depression Association of America Conference
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Thur,  Mar  28 - Sun,  Mar  31

What’s the difference between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder?

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Perhaps the person has watched a scary move, or seen something upsetting on TV. Or, more ominous, perhaps the person has experienced or witnessed a crime. Anyone might get anxious in these situations, but the person with an anxiety disorder has persistent or recurrent anxiety that prevents him or her from full participation in life. Anxiety can range from relatively mild (occasional “butterflies,” jitteriness, accompanied by a sense of unease) to severe (frequent, disabling panic attacks). Severe anxiety disorders can lead the person to alter his lifestyle to accommodate the anxiety, for example not leaving home. More

Can meditation or other relaxation techniques help with my anxiety?

They can. They are the best option for mild anxiety that most of us experience from time to time. There are many instructional books on relaxation exercises (often paired with deep breathing) and meditation, which is a form of relaxation. They are relatively simple to learn. These approaches can provide relief and can be used anywhere once the person understands the method. Mental health professionals can guide the person who needs a more personal approach to learning relaxation or meditation. More

Are there medications that can help with panic attacks?

Yes. There are many medications that have FDA approval to treat anxiety disorders. Several members of the benzodiazepine class are routinely used to provide relief from anxiety. These minor tranquillizers are safe and effective, but should be used for short-term relief. They have many side effects, including drowsiness, and can be habit forming at higher doses. People taking these medications should not use heavy machinery or drive until they understand how the medication might affect them.

Antidepressants are widely used to treat anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder. The most commonly prescribed medications are from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. They are generally effective and have few side-effects, although they do not provide immediate relief. More

How are children with anxiety disorders treated?

Children can be treated with the same methods as adults. A therapist may be effective by turning the therapy into a game to make it fun for the child. Medication works in children just as in adults, but the psychiatrist must be mindful of the much lower doses used in children. More

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About the Expert:

Donald Black, M.D.
Director, Psychiatry Residency Training Program
Vice Chairman for Education, Department of Psychiatry
University of Iowa, Carver College of Medicine

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Joey’s Story

Joey was a 12-year-old boy who was referred to mental health care for long-standing anxiety about losing his parents. He had begun to have anxieties as a young child and had great trouble starting kindergarten. He had been scared of being away from home for school. He was also briefly bullied in third grade, which made his anxieties worse.

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Editor's Choice

APR2019

Patients with anxiety, mood disorders lack self-compassion

Helio

Patients with anxiety and mood disorders — especially generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder — had lower levels of self-compassion, according to findings presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual conference. “Research shows that self-criticism and shame are implicated in anxiety and mood disorders and stigma,” Ricks Warren, PhD, ABPP, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan, told Healio Psychiatry.

MAR 30, 2019

How Pain Tolerance and Anxiety Seem to Be Connected

The New York Times

An article this week about Jo Cameron, who has lived for 71 years without experiencing pain or anxiety because she has a rare genetic mutation, prompted questions from New York Times readers. The notion that the same gene could be responsible for the way a person processes physical and psychological pain left many perplexed: Aren’t they totally different? Or does her story hint that sensitivity to one type of pain might be intertwined with sensitivity to another?

MAR 14, 2019

5 Common Anxiety Symptoms in Men

Men's Health

Chances are you don't realize the impact anxiety can have on guys. Studies continuously show that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder–but that doesn't mean you're immune. Researchers can't explain the causes of this disparity, but believe guys may feel pressured to exhibit anxious feelings in ways that seem more masculine.

Resources

Additional Resources and Organizations

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute on Mental Health

Physician Reviewed

Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
January 2017