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Overview of Anxiety Disorders

By

The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Feb 2021| Content last modified Feb 2021
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What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety is being worried or nervous. Anxiety is often normal. For example, many people are anxious when they're having money problems, trouble at work, or family difficulties.

However, you may have an anxiety disorder if:

  • You're anxious a lot of the time even when you aren't having problems or the problems aren't bad

  • The anxiety is so severe it interferes with your life

Having a little anxiety can help you focus, but having a lot makes it hard to do things well.

What causes an anxiety disorder?

What are the symptoms of an anxiety disorder?

Symptoms include:

  • Worry, fear, or panic

  • Trouble breathing, dizziness, and fast heart rate

How can doctors tell if I have an anxiety disorder?

Doctors examine you and ask questions about your symptoms. Doctors consider other disorders and diseases that have signs and symptoms similar to anxiety. If they don't find another cause, doctors diagnose you with an anxiety disorder if your anxiety:

  • Is distressing

  • Interferes with your ability to do daily tasks and activities

  • Has lasted a long time or keeps coming back

How do doctors treat anxiety disorders?

If your anxiety is caused or made worse by a medical problem or substance use, doctors will treat that.

Doctors treat anxiety disorders with:

  • Therapy

  • Medicine, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION
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Separation Anxiety and Stranger Anxiety
An important part of normal development is an infant’s growing attachment to its parents. As this bond strengthens, the infant may express fear or anxiety when the parents leave. This “separation anxiety” typically begins at around 8 months of age and resolves at around 24 months of age. Which of the following is the normal and expected infant behavior in reaction to a parent leaving the room during the time period of separation anxiety?
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