Anxiety Facts

  • Anxiety disorders, as a group, are the most common mental illness in America.
  • More than 19 million American adults are affected. Although children are affected, the prevalence is unclear.
  • In general, persons suffering from anxiety experience nervousness and fear that are chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively worse. Persons may experience excessive, irrational fear and dread, as well as show physical symptoms.
  • It is common for anxiety disorders to co-exist in persons with other mental health problems such as depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse as well as medical conditions like cancer or heart disease.
  • Treatment of anxiety disorders may include medication and/or psychotherapy. Cognitive and cognitive-behavioral therapies have been proven the most effective types of psychotherapy.
  • There are several types of anxiety disorders, including but not limited to:
    1. Panic Disorder-Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms that accompany the fear may include chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, abdominal distress, and fear of dying.
    2. Social Phobia-An overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, leading to avoidance of such situations.
    3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder-Repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to control or stop.
    4. Posttraumatic Stress Disorder-Persistent symptoms that include frightening and intrusive memories and occur after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event such as assault, abuse, war, or plane crashes; duration is more than one month.
    5. Acute Stress Disorder-A persistent re-experiencing of a traumatic event and avoidance of things that arouse recollection of the event; duration is a maximum of four weeks.
    6. Generalized Anxiety Disorder-Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday routine life events, decisions, and activities; always anticipating the worst; accompanied by physical symptoms.

*Compiled from The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Fourth Edition-Text Revision published by the American Psychiatric Association (2000) and a number of sources in public domain, including information and data published by the National Institute of Mental Health.