Mental Health

Brief Overview of Anxiety Disorders

Introduction
Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 40 million American adults. These disorders fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment.

Introduction
Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 40 million American adults. These disorders fill people’s lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment.

Brief Overview of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting both children and adults.

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Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
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An estimated 40 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.
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Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment.

Anxiety disorders are categorized as:

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more; in adults, the anxiety may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms include trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness, and irritability.
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Obsessive-Compulsve Disorder (OCD) In OCD, individuals are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears; typical obsessions include worry about being contaminated or fears of behaving improperly or acting violently. The obsessions may lead an individual to perform a ritual or routine (compulsions)-such as washing hands, repeating phrases or hoarding-to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession.
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Panic Disorder People with panic disorder suffer severe attacks of panic-which may make them feel like they are having a heart attack or are going crazy-for no apparent reason. Symptoms include heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, trembling, tingling sensations, feeling of choking, fear of dying, fear of losing control, and feelings of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia, in which people are afraid of having a panic attack in a place from which escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places.
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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can follow an exposure to a traumatic event such as a sexual or physical assault, witnessing a death, the unexpected death of a loved one, or natural disaster. There are three main symptoms associated with PTSD: “reliving” of the traumatic event (such as flashbacks and nightmares); avoidance behaviors (such as avoiding places related to the trauma) and emotional numbing (detachment from others); and physiological arousal such difficulty sleeping, irritability or poor concentration.
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Social Phobia (Social Anxiety Disorder) Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This intense anxiety may lead to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms associated with this disorder include heart palpitations, faintness, blushing and profuse sweating.
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Specific (Simple) Phobia People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or heights); the level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation, and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. This inordinate fear can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations.

Anxiety disorders are highly treatable with psychosocial therapies, medication, or both.

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Psycho-social treatments used in the treatment of anxiety disorders include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, anxiety management and relaxation therapies, and psychotherapy.
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Drugs used to treat anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines, beta blockers, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
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Combination therapies are often utilized.

Misdiagnosis and undertreatment of anxiety disorders costs the nation billions of dollars annually.

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Anxiety disorders cost the U.S. more than billion a year, according to “The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders,” a study commissioned by the ADAA and based on data gathered by the association and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
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More than .84 billion is associated with the repeated use of healthcare services, as those with anxiety disorders seek relief for symptoms that mimic physical illnesses.
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People with an anxiety disorder are three-to-five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than non-sufferers.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America
SOURCE:- www.adaa.org/
Reviewed by Lindsay on 02-10-10

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