What Are the Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America; more than 19 million
are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year. Anxiety disorders cost the U.S.
$46.6 billion in 1990 in direct and indirect costs, nearly one-third of the nation's
total mental health bill of $148 billion.
Below is a list of the different kinds of anxiety
Characterized by panic attacks, sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly and
without warning. Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of
breath, dizziness, abdominal discomfort, feelings of unreality, and fear of dying.
Repeated, intrusive and unwanted thoughts or rituals that seem impossible to control.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as war, rape,
child abuse, natural disasters, or being taken hostage. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing
of emotions, depression, and feeling angry, irritable, distracted and being easily
startled are common.
Extreme, disabling and irrational fear of something that really poses little or no
actual danger; the fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations and can cause
people to limit their lives.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting
at least six months; almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little
reason to expect it. Accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling,
muscle tension, headache, or nausea.
What Are the Treatments for Anxiety Disorders?
Treatments have been largely developed through research conducted by NIMH and other
research institutions. They are extremely effective and often combine medication or
specific types of psychotherapy. More medications are available than ever before to
effectively treat anxiety disorders. These include antidepressants or benzodiazepines.
If one medication is not effective, others can be tried. New medications are currently
under development to treat anxiety symptoms.
The two most effective forms of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety disorders are
behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy tries to change
actions through techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing or through gradual exposure
to what is frightening. In addition to these techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy
teaches patients to understand their thinking patterns so they can react differently to
the situations that cause them anxiety.
Can Anxiety Disorders Coexist with Other Physical or Mental Disorders?
It is common for an anxiety disorder to accompany another anxiety disorder, or in some
cases depression, eating disorders or substance abuse. Anxiety disorders can also
coexist with physical disorders. In such instances, these disorders will also need to
be treated. Before undergoing any treatment, it is important to have a thorough medical
exam to rule out other possible causes.
The content of this fact sheet was adapted from material published by the National
Institute of Mental Health.
For More Information
National Mental Health Association - 800.969.NMHA or 800.969.6642
National Institute of Mental Health
866.615.6464, Information Center
888.826.9438, Order Publications
Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation - 203.315.2190
Anxiety Disorders Association of America - 240.485.1001
Freedom From Fear - 718.351.1717 or 888.442.2022
American Psychiatric Association - 888.357.7924
American Psychological Association - 800.964.2000