Most people experience feelings
of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation
or first date. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that cause people
to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy for no apparent reason. Left
untreated, these disorders can dramatically reduce productivity and significantly
diminish an individual's quality of life.
How Common Are Anxiety
- Anxiety disorders are the
most common mental illnesses in America: more than 19 million are affected
by these debilitating illnesses each year.
- Anxiety disorders cost the
U.S. $46.6 billion in 1990 in direct and indirect costs, nearly one-third
of the nation's total mental health bill of $148 billion.
What Are the Different
Kinds of Anxiety Disorders?
- Repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning.
Physical symptoms include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of
breath, dizziness, abdominal distress, feelings of unreality, and fear
- Repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible
to stop or control.
Disorder - Persistent
symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as rape
or other criminal assault, war, child abuse, natural disasters or crashes.
Nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression and feeling angry,
irritable, distracted and being easily startled are common.
- Two major types of phobias are specific phobia and social phobia. People
with specific phobia experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear
of something that poses little or no actual danger; the fear leads to
avoidance of objects or situations and can cause people to limit their
People with social phobia have
an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation
in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable
and meaningful activities.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Constant, exaggerated worrisome thoughts and tension about everyday
routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months. Almost
always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect
it; accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle
tension, headache, or nausea.
Test to See How Anxious
You Really Are
Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN), a self-rated questionnaire, is a social
phobia scale that measures the three commonly seen types of social anxiety
disorder: fear, phobic avoidance and autonomic symptoms such as blushing,
sweating, and trembling.
Institutes of Mental Health