Of all psychiatric disorders that affect adults in the United States, anxiety disorders are the most common. Recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health suggest that approximately one in five Americans aged 18 or older currently experience an anxiety disorder, which can cause fearfulness and uncertainty. The five most common anxiety disorders include the following: 
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • Panic disorder 
  • Phobias 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Relatively mild, brief anxiety caused by a stressful event (such as starting a new job or relationship) is normal. But when anxiety persists for at least six months, an anxiety disorder is likely present. Anxiety disorders typically worsen if they are not treated. Anxiety disorders commonly exist along with other mental or physical illnesses, including alcohol or substance abuse, which may mask anxiety symptoms or worsen them. In some cases, the underlying illness must be treated before the anxiety disorder can be successfully managed.

Anxiety disorders have numerous causes ranging from chemical imbalance and genetic predisposition to trauma or a high-stress lifestyle. Our health care team at Houston Methodist is trained to identify anxiety disorders and provide effective and compassionate treatment.

Fortunately, many different therapies are available for patients with anxiety disorders. These include a host of anti-anxiety medications as well as cognitive-behavioral therapy (often called “talk therapy”), which can help you learn what causes your anxiety and how to manage it. These two specialized therapies are often combined in patients with an anxiety disorder. It is important that you seek help for persistent anxiety because if left untreated it can lead to depression, agoraphobia (fear of uncontrollable situations, which can cause some patients to isolate themselves from the world) or drug and/or alcohol abuse.

The following resources provide more information about anxiety disorders:

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