Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center

Select An Article
Font Size

Anxiety Disorders

(continued)

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders affect millions of adult Americans. Most anxiety disorders begin in childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. They occur slightly more often in women than in men, and occur with equal frequency in whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed?

If symptoms of an anxiety disorder are present, the doctor will begin an evaluation by asking you questions about your medical history and performing a physical exam. Although there are no lab tests to specifically diagnose anxiety disorders, the doctor may use various tests to look for physical illness as the cause of the symptoms.

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or another mental health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for an anxiety disorder.

The doctor bases his or her diagnosis on the patient's report of the intensity and duration of symptoms -- including any problems with daily functioning caused by the symptoms -- and the doctor's observation of the patient's attitude and behavior. The doctor then determines if the patient's symptoms and degree of dysfunction indicate a specific anxiety disorder.

How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated?

Fortunately, much progress has been made in the last two decades in the treatment of people with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although the exact treatment approach depends on the type of disorder, one or a combination of the following therapies may be used for most anxiety disorders:

  • Medication: Drugs used to reduce the symptoms of anxiety disorders include anti-depressants and anxiety-reducing drugs.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) addresses the emotional response to mental illness. It is a process in which trained mental health professionals help people by talking through strategies for understanding and dealing with their disorder.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This is a particular type of psychotherapy in which the person learns to recognize and change thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes.
  • Relaxation therapy.

Can Anxiety Disorders Be Prevented?

Anxiety disorders cannot be prevented; however, there are some things you can do to control or lessen symptoms:

  • Stop or reduce consumption of products that contain caffeine, such as coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks, and chocolate.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines or herbal remedies. Many contain chemicals that can increase anxiety symptoms.
  • Seek counseling and support if you start to regularly feel anxious with no apparent cause.

 

1|2

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on February 08, 2014
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Understanding Anxiety Prevention
Article
Unhappy couple
Article
 
Couple walking outdoors
SLIDESHOW
Man texting
Article
 
Phobias frightened eyes
Slideshow
Antidepressants
Video
 
organize
Article
Stressed businessman
HEALTH CHECK
 
Distressed teen girl in dramatic lighting
Article
Quit Smoking
Slideshow
 
Teen with OCD
Article
Too Scared Social Anxiety Disorder
VIDEO