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 more common in females. Factors that may increase the risk of anxiety disorders include:
Psychological symptoms may include:
Physical symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A psychiatric exam will be done. A physical exam may also be done. 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.
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 August 12, 2010. Accessed November 10, 2014.
Generalized anxiety disorder. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated August 29, 2014. Accessed November 10, 2014.
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 November 10, 2014.
12/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Javnbakht M, Hejazi KR, et al. 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 http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Li AW, Goldsmith CA. The effects of yoga on anxiety and stress. Altern Med Rev. 2012;17(1):21-35.
11/6/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Mars B, Heron J, et al. Clinical and social outcomes of adolescent self harm: Population based birth cohort study. 2014;349:g5954.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Michael Woods, 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.