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

  • Oct 16, 2018
Not Just a Problem at School: Sibling Bullying

Bullying refers to intentional behaviors that hurt, harm, or humiliate a person, either physically or emotionally. Much of the focus is on bullying in schools, but bullying can take place at home among siblings too and it can have a significant and lasting impact. However, sibling bullying is often seen as harmless by families and society, just part of growing up.

  • Sep 20, 2018
Loneliness and Social Isolation Can be a Concern at Any Age

Social isolation and loneliness are common and concerning, and not just for older adults, according to a new international survey from Kaiser Family Foundation and The Economist. Overall more than one in five adults in the U.S. reported that they often or always feel lonely, feel they lack companionship or feel left out or isolated from others. Among adults 18 to 49, 24 percent reported experiencing loneliness compared to 20 percent of adults 50 and over. People with mental illness were much more likely to feel lonely (47 percent).

  • Sep 06, 2018
Self-Talk: Are there Potential Benefits of Talking to Yourself?

Most of us talk to ourselves occasionally, some more than others. “We all have an internal monologue that we engage in from time to time; an inner voice that guides our moment-to-moment reflections,” notes researcher Jason S. Moser, Ph.D., with Michigan State University. But is talking to yourself a good thing? Can it actually be beneficial? It may depend on how you do it.

Upcoming Events
Oct
2018
01
Monthly Webinars to Calm Anxious Minds
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Oct
2018
01
Find local events and support from Mental Health America
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Mental Health America

Oct
2018
01
Find local events and support from NAMI
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

Oct
2018
01
Find campus based events and support from Active Minds
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Active Minds

Oct
2018
01
Find a local support group - ADAA
  • Mon,  Oct  01 - Wed,  Oct  31
  • 10:15 AM - 10:15 AM

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

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

OCT 4, 2018

Excessive Worry? Anxiety disorders may feel severe, but are treatable

Petoskey News-Review

While it's normal to feel anxious about certain situations, when those feelings lead to physical symptoms it may be the onset of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are classified as a group of mental disorders characterized by significant feelings of anxiety and fear. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work and relationships.

OCT 2, 2018

How Emma Stone learned to deal with her anxiety and panic attacks

ABC News

For Emma Stone, acting is so much more than a job. The Oscar winner credits performing with helping her cope with lifelong anxiety and panic.When Stone began acting at age 11 and discovered improv, she realized for the first time that "my feelings could be productive." Being a part of the "team" at her local children's theater also kept her from isolating herself with her anxiety. "Because the world is hard and scary and there's a lot that goes on and if you’re very attuned to it, it can be crippling. But if you don't let it cripple you and use it for something productive, it's like a superpower," Stone said.

SEPT 19, 2018

8 Signs You Have Anxiety that's Messing with Your Life

Women's Health

Feeling anxious once in a while and having anxiety are two very different things—the former constitutes normal day-to-day worries, while the latter begins with a thought or feeling that you become fixated upon, leading you down a rabbit hole of anxiety, sometimes coupled with legit physical symptoms (like a racing heart and profuse sweating).

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