According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the United States, affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older. People use a number of different words for anxiety, such as stress, nerves, wound up, or panic. A certain level of anxiety or stress is normal – it helps us to be alert and perform well. It becomes a problem when we suffer significant emotional or physical discomfort and it stops us from doing the things we want. There are several forms of anxiety with specific diagnoses that appear to be genetically linked: panic disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social anxiety.
Symptoms may be different for everyone. You may experience trouble concentrating, feel tense or jumpy, be irritable, feel your heart pounding, sweat, have an upset stomach or feel short of breath.
The two main types of treatment for anxiety disorders are talking treatments, known as psychotherapy, and medication. A highly effective form of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). Rather than focusing on what has happened in the past, CBT is short-term, goal oriented and time-limited therapy that focuses on how you think, feel and behave through a practical hands on approach to problem-solving. Until recently, benzodiazepines or minor tranquilizers were the main types of medications used to treat anxiety. A problem with benzodiazepines is they may lose some of their effectiveness over time. In some people, problematic dependency may occur if the medication is not taken according to their physician's instructions.
However, certain anti-depressant medications, such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are very helpful in the treatment of anxiety disorders. Evidence shows they are very effective for certain types of anxiety and can be taken by most people with very few side effects. There are several other medications that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of anxiety, including azapirones and beta-blockers.
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
Learn Psychology – Guide to College Student Mental Health
National Institute of Mental Health – Anxiety