Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. These disorders fill people's lives with overwhelming anxiety and fear. Unlike the relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event such as a business presentation or a first date, anxiety disorders are chronic, relentless, and can grow progressively worse if not treated.

The anxiety disorders are:

Each anxiety disorder has its own distinct features, but they are all bound together by the common theme of excessive, irrational fear and dread. Physical symptoms often include pounding or racing heart, sweating, cold hands, lightheadedness, shaking, difficulty breathing, choking sensations and feelings of unreality. There is often the urge to flee and the feeling that something terrible might happen. Depression often accompanies anxiety disorders and may need to be treated as well. Effective treatments for anxiety disorders are available, and research is yielding new, improved therapies that can help most people with anxiety disorders lead productive, fulfilling lives. If you think you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek information and treatment. It is important to get a medical evaluation to determine if an underlying medical condition may be causing these symptoms; however, if no physical cause can be found, psychotherapy can be highly effective in identifying triggers and healthy responses to prevent anxiety from controlling one's life.

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