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Home Health Disease Health Anxiety Disorders
About Anxiety Disorders

Generalized

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common, chronic disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder experience non-specific persistent fear and worry, and become overly concerned with everyday matters. According to Schacter, Gilbert, and Wegner's book Psychology: Second Edition, generalized anxiety disorder is "characterized by chronic excessive worry accompanied by three or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance". Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to affect older adults.

Phobias

The single largest category of anxiety disorders is that of phobic disorders, which includes all cases in which fear and anxiety is triggered by a specific stimulus or situation. Between 5% and 12% of the population worldwide suffer from phobic disorders.Sufferers typically anticipate terrifying consequences from encountering the object of their fear, which can be anything from an animal to a location to a bodily fluid to a particular situation. Sufferers understand that their fear is not proportional to the actual potential danger but still are overwhelmed by the fear.

Panic disorder

With panic disorder, a person suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and/or difficulty breathing. These panic attacks, defined by the APA as fear or discomfort that abruptly arises and peaks in less than ten minutes, can last for several hours. Attacks can be triggered by stress, fear, or even exercise; the specific cause is not always apparent.

Prevention

Focus is increasing on prevention of anxiety disorders. There is tentative evidence to support the use of cognitive behavior therapy.As of 2013 there are no effective measures to prevent GAD in adults.

Diagnosis

Anxiety disorders are often severe chronic conditions, which can be present from an early age or begin suddenly after a triggering event. They are prone to flare up at times of high stress and are frequently accompanied by physiological symptoms such as headache, sweating, muscle spasms, tachycardia, palpitations, and hypertension, which in some cases lead to fatigue or exhaustion.

In casual discourse the words "anxiety" and "fear" are often used interchangeably; in clinical usage, they have distinct meanings: "anxiety" is defined as an unpleasant emotional state for which the cause is either not readily identified or perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable, whereas "fear" is an emotional and physiological response to a recognized external threat. The term "anxiety disorder" includes fears (phobias) as well as anxieties.

Treatment

Treatment options available include lifestyle changes, therapy, and medications. Medication are only recommended if other measures are not effective. Stopping smoking has benefits in anxiety as large as or larger than those of medications.

Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for anxiety disorders, CBT, as its name suggests, has two main components: cognitive and behavioral. In cases of social anxiety, the cognitive component can help the person question how they can be so sure that others are continually watching and harshly judging him or her. The behavioral component seeks to change people's reactions to anxiety-provoking situations.

Medications

Medication are only indicated if other measures have not been found to be effective or a person is not interested in trying them.If medications are used SSRIs are recommended as first-line agents. Benzodiazepines are also sometimes indicated for short-term or "as needed" use. They are usually considered second-line due to disadvantages such as cognitive impairment and risks of dependence.MAOIs such as phenelzine and tranylcypromine are considered an effective treatment and are especially useful in treatment-resistant cases, however, dietary restrictions and medical interactions may limit their use. Pregabalin may be effective. In children and adolescents, when a medication option is warranted, antidepressants such as SSRIs, SNRIs as well as tricyclic antidepressants can be effective. Buspar is not effective in children and adolescents who have an anxiety disorder.

Children

Several methods of treatment have been found to be effective in treating childhood anxiety disorders. Like adults, children may undergo psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or counseling. They may still be given medication such as SSRIs, but in much smaller doses. However, administering potent medications like antidepressants to children is controversial.

Epidemiology

Globally as of 2010 approximately 273 million (4.5% of the population) had an anxiety disorder.It is more common in females (5.2%) than males (2.8%).In Europe, Africa and Asia, lifetime rates of anxiety disorders are between 9 and 16%, and yearly rates are between 4 and 7%. In the United States, the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders is about 29% and between 11 and 18% of adults have the condition in a given year.

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