Defining Anxiety Disorders

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,006
    Psychologist Douglas Mennin, PhD, talks about when you should become concerned that you might have an anxiety disorder, which refers to a group of conditions that includes panicking, obsessions and compulsions, posttraumatic stress, social anxiety, and phobias. If you experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming, or if you have an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations that interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

    Dr. Douglas Mennin: Hello, I'm Dr. Douglas Mennin, a psychologist and a professional member of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America. Today we are discussing stress and anxiety, and now I want to talk about when you should become concerned that you might have an anxiety disorder.

    The term "anxiety disorder" refers to a group of conditions that includes panicking, chronic anxiety, obsessions and compulsions, posttraumatic stress, social anxiety, and phobias. If you experience anxiety that is persistent, seemingly uncontrollable, and overwhelming, or if you have an excessive irrational dread of everyday situations that interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder.

    People with anxiety disorders have the symptoms every day or nearly every day that may cause difficulty with relationships, work and school, and other activities. Many people also have a co-occurring disorder like depression, physical illness, or substance abuse. All of these can make symptoms worse and recovery more difficult.

    People who experience an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.

    Here are a few important statistics: Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older. They are associated with the poorest marital and relationship functioning of all the disorders.

    Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness diagnosed in children and one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses: 75 % of adults experience their first episode of anxiety by age 22. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. Researchers are learning that anxiety disorders run in families, and that they have a biological basis, much like allergies or diabetes and other disorders. Anxiety disorders may develop from a complex set of risk factors including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.

    If you would like to learn more, visit www.adaa.org and check out our other videos on anxiety and anxiety disorders, including recognizing common symptoms.