What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental disorders and begin before or in early adulthood. The presentation of anxiety is manifested with excessive fear or avoidance of perceived threats that are ongoing, intensive, and impairing. Anxiety disorders involve dysfunction in brain circuits that respond to danger. Genetic and environmental factors are also important factors impacting anxiety. Anxiety disorders are often comorbid with one another and with other mental disorders, especially depression, as well as with somatic disorders. (2)

Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental disorder in children. Separation anxiety, a specific phobia, or social anxiety disorder is the most common type of anxiety in childhood. However, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorders present later in life. (3)

The most common psychiatric comorbidity is major depressive disorder: half to two-thirds of adults with anxiety disorders also suffer from this diagnosis. (4)

People with anxiety disorders have a higher risk of unstable relationships, poorer functioning, and health, work absenteeism in comparison with the ones without the diagnosis (5,6 ). Also, the risk of death has been shown to be increased by 1·4 times by natural causes and increased by 2·5 times by unnatural causes for people with anxiety disorders. (7)

Only less than 25% are estimated to receive any form of treatment across the world, and even for those with the desire for care, less than 25% are estimated to receive adequate treatment. (8)

Anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent pediatric behavioral health conditions, affecting roughly 32% of youths prior to adulthood, and associated with impaired functioning that can continue into adulthood and increase in severity. (9.10)

If you suspect that you or your child has anxiety disorder seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

The Main categories of anxiety disorder: 

  • Specific phobia
  • Panic disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Generalized anxiety disorder 
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety disorder


2. Brenda W J H Penninx, Daniel S Pine, Emily A Holmes, Andreas Reif

3. Lancet 2021; 397: 914–27 Published Online February 11, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/ S0140-6736(21)00359-7

4. Lamers F, van Oppen P, Comijs HC, et al. Comorbidity patterns of anxiety and depressive disorders in a large cohort study: the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). J Clin Psychiatry 2011; 72: 341–48.

7.Meier SM, Mattheisen M, Mors O, Mortensen PB, Laursen TM, Penninx BW. Increased mortality among people with anxiety disorders: total population study. Br J Psychiatry 2016; 209: 216–21.

8. Alonso J, Liu Z, Evans-Lacko S, et al. Treatment gap for anxiety disorders is global: results of the World Mental Health Surveys in 21 countries. Depress Anxiety 2018; 35: 195–208.

9. Merikangas  KR, He  JP, Burstein  M,  et al.  Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in US adolescents: results from the National Comorbidity Study-Adolescent Supplement.  J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2011;49(10):980-989.PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref 

10. Connolly  SD, Bernstein  GA; Work Group on Quality Issues.  Practice parameter for the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders.  J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2007;46(2):267-283.

Parivash Kalantari
Parivash Kalantari
Articles: 7

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