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 disorders may result from a combination of factors, such as:
Chemical imbalances in the brain may also play a role.
Anxiety disorders are nearly twice as common in women than in men. Other factors that may increase your chance of anxiety disorders include:
Psychological symptoms may include:
Physical symptoms may include:
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You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical and psychiatric exam will be done. Conditions with similar symptoms will be evaluated. Blood and urine tests may be done.
Your doctor will ask questions about your:
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 (CBT) 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, medications may include:
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of these medications. Some types may cause dependence.
To help reduce your chance of anxiety:
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. Updated December 23, 2014. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 23, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.
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 January 26, 2016.
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Last reviewed December 2015 by Adrian Preda, MD