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Anxiety disorders are mental illnesses that fill people's lives with overwhelming worry and fear. An anxiety disorder is not the type of temporary fear or nervousness that accompanies a stressful situation and then goes away -- it is generally chronic, unremitting, and can grow progressively worse. While the exact causes are unknown, it is thought that a combination of a person's genetic predisposition and environment may play a role.
Several different types of conditions fall into this category, including social phobia, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety disorders often occur along with other conditions, such as eating disorders or depressive disorders. Depending on the type of anxiety a person has, symptoms could range from obsessive thoughts and flashbacks of traumatic events to physical symptoms like nausea, headaches, and fatigue.
Fortunately, anxiety is a treatable illness. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, don't hesitate to discuss it with your healthcare provider. In some cases, psychotherapy, or counseling, is sufficient. In other cases, medication alone can be effective. Some people may need both.
(Click Anxiety for more information on this topic. This article provides a complete overview of possible causes, symptoms, and diagnosis.)
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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