Anxiety Disorders are the most common mental illness in America. Anxiety-symptoms are varied, and more than 19 million Americans are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year.

Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation, or first date. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that fill people's lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear that are chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively worse.

Tormented by panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, or countless frightening physical symptoms, some people with anxiety disorders even become housebound; they are actually held captive by their fears.

It is common for an anxiety disorder to accompany depression, eating disorders, substance abuse or another anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders also can co-exist with physical disorders. In such instances, the accompanying disorder also will need to be treated.

Before beginning any treatment, however, it is important to have a thorough medical examination to rule out other possible causes for symptoms.

What are the Different Kinds of Anxiety Disorders

Panic Disorder - Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical anxiety-symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality and fear of dying.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder - Repeated unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - Persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as rape or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural disasters or crashes. Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression, and feeling angry, irritable or distracted and being easily startled are common.

Anxiety-Symptoms: More Information on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

What are Effective Treatments for Anxiety Disorders?

Two clinically-proven effective forms of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety disorders are behavioral therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Behavioral Therapy focuses on changing specific actions and uses several techniques to stop unwanted anxiety-symptoms and behaviors. In addition to the behavioral therapy techniques, Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy teaches patients to understand and change their thinking patterns so they can react differently to the situations that cause them anxiety.

Licensed psychologists are qualified to diagnose and treat anxiety disorders. Individuals suffering from these anxiety-symptoms should seek a provider who is competent in cognitive and behavioral therapies.

It is very important to understand that treatments for anxiety disorders do not work instantly. The patient's cooperation is crucial, and there must be a strong sense that the patient and the therapist are collaborating as a team to remedy the anxiety disorder.

More medications are available than ever before to effectively treat anxiety disorders. They include groups of drugs called antidepressants and benzodiazepines. If one medication is not effective, others can be tried. New medications are under development to treat anxiety disorders.


Book Review: Anxiety and Phobia Workbook

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