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Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam, keep focused on an important speech. In general, it helps one cope. But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder.
Anxiety Disorders affect about 40 million American adults age 18 years and older (about 18%) in a given year, causing them to be filled with fearfulness and uncertainty. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as speaking in public or a first date), anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, these other illnesses need to be treated before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.
Common anxiety disorders include:
• panic disorder
• obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
• post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (Click here for PSTD self-assessment screening)
• social phobia (or social anxiety disorder)
• generalized anxiety disorder (Click here for GAD self-assessment screening)
Effective therapies for anxiety disorders are available, and research is uncovering new treatments 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 right away.
(from Anxiety Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health, click here to download the entire booklet, 26pgs)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
American Psychology Association
Senior Health-National Institutes of Health
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