All Topics

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

  • Jun 21, 2018
Prolonged Exposure Therapy for PTSD

New research has found that one common treatment for PTSD, prolonged exposure therapy, can be effective in a shorter, more intense format, making it potentially more acceptable and accessible to more people needing treatment.

  • Jun 14, 2018
Poverty and Other Life Circumstances Can Harm Mental Health: Addressing the Social Determinants of Mental Health

The conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age are collectively referred to as social determinants of mental health. They include education, neighborhood and physical environment, employment, social support networks, socioeconomic status and access to health care. These circumstances often create a cycle where poverty contributes to mental health issues which in turn lead to further poverty.

  • Jun 12, 2018
Increase in Suicides Highlights Need for Comprehensive Prevention Efforts

Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in the U.S. in 2016, and the suicide rate continues to rise, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In more than half the states, suicide rates have increased more than 30 percent since 1999, and the overall U.S. rate of suicide has increased every year since 2006.

Upcoming Events
Mar
2018
01
Find campus based events and support from Active Minds
  • Thur,  Mar  01 - Sat,  Mar  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Active Minds

May
2018
01
Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

May
2018
01
Find local events and support from Mental Health America
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Mental Health America

May
2018
01
Find local events and support from NAMI
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

May
2018
01
Find a local support group - ADAA
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Jun
2018
27
NAMI National Convention
  • New Orleans
  • Wed,  Jun  27 - Sat,  Jun  30
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

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

black-expert.jpg

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

12-yo-Male.jpg

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.

Read More

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

MAY 10 2018

Why kids and teens may face far more anxiety these days

Washington Post

Anxiety, not depression, is the leading mental health issue among American youths, and clinicians and research both suggest it is rising. The latest study was published in April in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. Based on data collected from the National Survey of Children’s Health for ages 6 to 17, researchers found a 20 percent increase in diagnoses of anxiety between 2007 and 2012.

APR 19 2018

Three Common Symptoms That Could Point To Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Forbes

Many people suffer from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), or even sub-clinical anxiety that they are faced with on a daily basis. Although each person with GAD has their own individual experiences with anxiety, there are certain common symptoms among the majority of people who suffer from this common disorder.
Most people who suffer from GAD will struggle with frequent negative worrying about present, future, and or past experiences, thoughts, or potential scenarios.

APR 17, 2018

8 Stats That Prove Social Anxiety Needs To Be Taken Seriously

HuffPost

Social anxiety disorder is more than a fleeting feeling of shyness. It’s a mental illness that can disrupt the regular flow of life, making everyday tasks and responsibilities seem impossible. “When someone has social anxiety, they can experience it so severely that it inhibits their pursuit of life goals, prevents them from forming relationships, pursuing career or school, being assertive, or being in public places,” explains Larry Cohen, chair of the National Social Anxiety Center..

Resources

Additional Resources and Organizations

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Mental Health America

National Alliance on Mental Illness

National Institute on Mental Health

National Institutes of Health

Physician Reviewed

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