Amy Scholten, MPH
Anxiety is a state of dread, tension, and unease. It is considered a normal response to stress or uncertain situations. Feeling anxious for long periods of time or at intense levels may mean that you have an anxiety disorder. You may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder if the anxiety:
The most common types of anxiety disorders are:
Anxiety may occur with other conditions, such as
drug abuse, and depression.
Anxiety disorders may result from a combination of factors, such as:
Chemical imbalances in the brain (e.g., serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA) may also play a role.
Anxiety disorders are more common in females. Factors that may increase the risk of anxiety disorders include:
Psychological symptoms may include:
Physical symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history and perform a psychiatric evaluation. Your doctor may also do a physical exam and order tests to look for other causes of your symptoms. You may be referred to a psychotherapist for further evaluation.
Effective treatment usually involves a combination of interventions, including:
This therapy addresses thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that play a role in anxiety. It helps you work through traumas and conflicts.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
can help you identify negative thought patterns and behaviors. Over time, you can learn to retrain your thinking. This will help you respond better to stress and anxiety.
CBT has been very effective in children and teens.
For severe anxiety or anxiety disorder, medicines may include:
If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, follow your doctor's
To help prevent anxiety, consider taking the following steps:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Mental Health America
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Antidepressant use in children, adolescents, and adults. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at:
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/InformationbyDrugClass/UCM096273. Published May 22, 2009. Accessed August 27, 2012.
Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated May 23, 2012. Accessed July 31, 2012.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). National Institute of Mental Health website. Available at:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/index.shtml. Accessed August 27, 2012.
DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us: Javnbakht M, Hejazi Kenari R, Ghasemi M. Effects of yoga on depression and anxiety of women.
Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2009;15(2):102-104.
9/12/2012 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/: Li AW, Goldsmith CA. The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress.
Altern Med Rev. 2012;17(1):21-35.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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