Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19
million American adults.1 These disorders fill people’s lives with
overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused
by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety
disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not
Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is
yielding new, improved therapies 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.
This brochure will
- help you identify the symptoms of anxiety disorders,
- explain the role of research in understanding the causes of these
- describe effective treatments,
- help you learn how to obtain treatment and work with a doctor or therapist,
- suggest ways to make treatment more effective.
The anxiety disorders discussed in this brochure are
- panic disorder,
- obsessive-compulsive disorder,
- post-traumatic stress disorder,
- social phobia (or social anxiety disorder),
- specific phobias, and
- generalized anxiety disorder.
Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features, but they are all bound
together by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear and dread.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) supports scientific
investigation into the causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of anxiety
disorders and other mental illnesses. The NIMH mission is to reduce the burden
of mental illness through research on mind, brain, and behavior. NIMH is a
component of the National Institutes of Health, which is part of the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services.