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:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Panic disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Selective mutism
- Substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder
- Anxiety disorders due to other medical conditions
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
- Being easily fatigued
- Muscle tension
- Sleep problems
- 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:
- Anti-anxiety drugs
- Benzodiazepines, especially in emergency situations
- Antihypertensive drugs
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:
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.
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