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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

  • Mar 27, 2020
Coping with Isolation and Social Distancing

In these unprecedented, uncertain times when many of us are isolated, stuck at home and separated from friends and family, fear and stress are natural reactions.  With so much of what is happening out of our control, it’s helpful to focus on what you can do to take of yourself and your family. Keep in mind people react to stressful situations in different ways.  

  • Mar 24, 2020
Online Support for People with Mental Health Conditions

While these unprecedented times are stressful for everyone, people with mental health conditions may face particular challenges. As much as possible, try to keep up your overall health, try to follow your treatment plan, and try to manage your stress. Engage in activities that help manage your stress, such as exercise, relaxation techniques and creative activities. It is even more important to stay connected with friends, family and your support network. Many organizations offer ways to connect and find support online or by phone for general mental health and for specific conditions.

  • Mar 17, 2020
Could Psychedelics be Used to Treat Mental Illness?

There has been increased interest and research in psychedelics as a treatment for mental illness in recent years. A new review study concludes that while research is still preliminary, psychedelics, such as lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), show promise for treating conditions including treatment-resistant depression, anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  However, researchers also concluded that these drugs are not ready for use as treatment at this time. (1)

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Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
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Anxiety and Depression Association of America

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Mental Health America

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Find local events and support from NAMI
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National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

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Active Minds

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Find a local support group - ADAA
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Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

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Mental Health Month
  • Fri,  May  01 - Sat,  May  30

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

MAR 26 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic May Be Causing an Anxiety Pandemic

Time

As the physical coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, an emotional pandemic is following fast in its wake. When the whole world is going to pieces, it’s awfully hard for the human mind—a fragile thing inthe best of times—to cope, and more and more, doctors are reporting the spread of despair, worry and depression among their patients, especially those already suffering from some form of anxiety disorder..

MAR 26, 2020

Coping with the coronavirus pandemic for people with anxiety disorders

Harvard Health Blog

These days, we all have to accept the anxiety inherent in living in the time of the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19. If there was a way to dispel all anxious feelings, I’d tell you, but there isn’t. The one exception might be someone who could summon such a degree of denial that they carry on as if everything was normal. And that, as I’m sure you can see, would prove to be very, very unwise. Anxiety helps us prepare to respond in a more adaptive and healthy way. 

MAR 3, 2020

New Study reevaluates factors linked with anxiety disorders

Medical News Today

A new study analyzing the information collected from a large, representative Canadian cohort of adults over the age of 45 has found associations between diet and anxiety disorder risk. Other factors linked with anxiety included a person’s biological sex and whether or not they were an immigrant. .

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