Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to dangers and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders differ from normal feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and involve excessive fear or anxiety. Anxiety disorders are the most common of mental disorders and affect nearly 30% of adults at some point in their lives. But anxiety disorders are treatable and a number of effective treatments are available. Treatment helps most people lead normal productive lives.
How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?
In any given year the estimated percent of U.S. adults with various anxiety disorders are:
- specific phobia: 8% – 12%
- social anxiety disorder: 7%
- panic disorder: 2% – 3%
- agoraphobia: 1-2.9% in adolescents and adults
- generalized anxiety disorder: 2%
- separation anxiety disorder: 0.9% – 1.9%
Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Understanding Anxiety and Fear
Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders.
Anxiety refers to anticipation of a future concern and is more associated with muscle tension and avoidance behavior.
Fear is an emotional response to an immediate threat and is more associated with a fight or flight reaction – either staying to fight or leaving to escape danger.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders: Types and Their Impact on Daily Life
Anxiety disorders can cause people to try to avoid situations that trigger or worsen their symptoms. Job performance, school work and personal relationships can be affected. In general, for a person to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, the fear or anxiety must:
- Be out of proportion to the situation or age-inappropriate
- Hinder ability to function normally
There are several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder.