Is Anxiety a Mental Disorder?

Reviewed on 4/15/2022

Teenage student sitting at a desk looking stressed during a test
Anxiety is a mental disorder and there are several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a common type of mental, or psychiatric, disorder characterized by anxiety or fear that does not go away over time.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorders, affecting up to 30% of adults at some point in their lives.

What Are Symptoms of Anxiety?

Symptoms of anxiety vary depending on the specific type of anxiety disorder and may include:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry that is difficult to control
  • Feeling restless or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Irritability
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Muscle tension
  • Sleep problems
  • Fears
    • Of humiliation or embarrassment
    • Of social situations and exposure to possible scrutiny by others 
    • Of being trapped without escape 
    • Irrational and out of proportion fear to specific situations (e.g., animals, insects, blood, needles, flying, heights)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling as if you’re having a heart attack (patients with panic disorder often come to a hospital’s emergency department because they fear a heart attack is occurring)

What Is the Treatment for Anxiety?

Treatment for anxiety often involves a combination of medication and/or psychotherapy. 

Medications used to treat anxiety include: 

Types of therapy used to treat anxiety include:

  • Behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • Computerized CBT (FearFighter) 
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy 
  • Supportive psychotherapy
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Mindfulness therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy (or insight-oriented therapy) 

Other treatments used for anxiety include: 

  • Cranial electrotherapy stimulator (CES) for treatment of anxiety, depression, and insomnia

Hospitalization may be needed to treat severe anxiety in cases such as: 

  • Severe functional impairment (cannot meet own daily needs)
  • Deficits in social skills 
  • Suicide or homicide risk
    • If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.


Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes. See Answer

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Reviewed on 4/15/2022
Image Source: iStock Images