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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

  • Aug 15, 2019
Colleges Increase Their Focus on Student Mental Health

As many students head back to college this fall, a new survey finds that student mental health is getting more attention among college leaders. Eight out of 10 colleges are placing a greater priority on student mental health now compared to three years ago, according to a recent survey of college presidents from the American Council on Education. Most college presidents said their staff and faculty are spending more time addressing mental health concerns that three years ago. More than 70%, of the more than 400 presidents surveyed, said they had reallocated or identified additional funding to address the issue.

  • Jul 29, 2019
More Benefits of Exercise:  Preventing and Treating Anxiety

There are many reasons we should all be getting out to exercise– improved sleep, increased energy, reduced risk of chronic disease and more. Preventing anxiety is one more reason to keep up your exercise routine, according to new research published in June in the journal Depression and Anxiety. 

  • Jul 09, 2019
Irritability in Children Can be More than Just a Bad Mood

Irritability, defined as a low threshold to experience anger in response to frustration, is one of the main reasons children are referred to a mental health evaluation. Irritability can appear as age-inappropriate temper outbursts and a sullen, grouchy mood and is associated with several child and adolescent mental health conditions.

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
01

Mental Health America

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

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Feb
2019
01

Active Minds

Feb
2019
01
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