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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 03, 2018
Health Anxiety Fueled by Online Searching

Most people worry about their health sometimes—more than two-thirds of us are anxious about our health, according to an American Psychiatric Association national poll released in May. We may do a quick Google search, take a look on WebMD or use a handy symptom checker for some basic information and reassurance. But for some, the worry and anxiety become severe, intense and persistent. The extensive amounts of health information easily available on the internet may worsen the problem.

  • Jul 27, 2018
Inflammation and Depression: Complicated Connections

Growing evidence shows an association between depression and inflammation. But the connections are complex and not well understood. Understanding these links is important because it could lead to better depression treatment, especially for the many people who don’t respond to traditional treatments.

  • Jul 24, 2018
Reducing Stress with a Walk in the Forest

For many people, a walk in the forest has long been a relaxing and rejuvenating escape from daily stresses. There is growing medical evidence that a stroll through the forest is much more, evidence identifying the physical and mental health benefits. Proponents of the mental health benefits refer to a more structured therapeutic practice called forest therapy.

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2018
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Anxiety and Depression Association of America

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National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

May
2018
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Find a local support group - ADAA
  • Tue,  May  01 - Thur,  May  31
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Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)

Jun
2018
27
NAMI National Convention
  • New Orleans
  • Wed,  Jun  27 - Sat,  Jun  30
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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.

Read More

Have a Story of Your Own to Share?

Editor's Choice

JULY 23 2018

Do I have anxiety or worry: What's the difference?

Harvard Health Blog

Have you ever thought about starting a new job or school, and found your heart pounding and your mind racing with a series of “what ifs”? If so, you may wonder “do I have anxiety?”  Anxiety is your body’s natural threat response system. When your brain believes you are in danger, it sends out a series of signals to your body, resulting in the fight-or-flight response. Worry is a component of anxiety symptoms. Anxiety has three main components: emotional, physiological, and cognitive.

JULY 21 2018

More than Just Shyness: Social Anxiety Disorder

Idaho State Journal

For people with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), also known as Social Phobia, everyday social interactions cause irrational anxiety, fear, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. This can make it difficult to be around groups of people and even family gatherings. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate when getting nervous or anxious is a normal feeling, or when you might need to see a professional about an anxiety disorder.

JULY 18, 2018

What Dating is Like When You Have Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The Mighty

Generalized anxiety is exactly what it sounds like. It is a broad anxiety that can be linked to anything and happen at any time. Life with generalized anxiety is extremely unpredictable. I can go from having a great day, feeling productive and having great social interactions to going home, falling apart and becoming a crying mess in my bed all within 24 hours. I try to never hold onto things too long, remember that good things don’t always last and do my best not to let myself get too attached to anyone since I don’t want to get hurt. When it comes to dating, my mind loses it. I know to date I need to let my guard down. I need to show who I am and talk about my past experiences, but it’s like there’s always this little voice in the back of my head. 

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