Everyone experiences anxiety at one time or another. It is a normal reaction to stress. Anxiety can “help” a person deal with tense situations in the office, to study harder for an exam or keep focused on important speeches and lectures. Anxiety helps one to cope. If anxiety becomes excessive, or an irrational dread of everyday situations, it becomes a disabling disorder classified as an “anxiety disorder.”

There are five major types of anxiety disorders which are:

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
3. Panic Disorder
4. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
5. Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Anxiety disorders can be successfully treated. Research is yielding new, improved therapies that help most people with anxiety disorders to lead productive, fulfilling lives.

About 40 million American adults age 18 years and older suffer with anxiety disorders. This is about 18% of the population in a given year. People suffering from these disorders are filled with fearfulness and uncertainty, which is very much unlike relatively normal, mild, brief anxiety caused by a specific stressful event (such as a new job, speaking in public or a first date).

Anxiety disorders last at least 6 months and can get worse if not treated. They also occur commonly along with other mental or physical illnesses that include alcohol or substance abuse, which cover up anxiety symptoms or make them worse. In some cases, the other illnesses need successful treatment before a person will respond to treatment for the anxiety disorder.

There are effective therapies for anxiety disorders and new research continues to reveal new treatments. Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms. All the symptoms revolve around:

• “excessive,” irrational fear and dread

It is important to remember that feelings of anxiety are normal and essential for coping through our daily lives. It is when these feelings of anxiety are excessive, or have no realistic reason for occurring and interrupt a person’s daily functioning that it becomes a true anxiety disorder requiring treatment.

If you feel you are experiencing unnecessary anxiety in your daily life a good starting place for help is your primary care physician. He or she can refer you to appropriate treatment centers and mental health professionals.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The information in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All health concerns should be addressed by a qualified health care professional.

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