Brain Facts

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Anxiety Disorders - Highlights

Anxiety disorders include:

- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Panic disorder
- Phobic disorders, such as agoraphobia and social phobia
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Separation anxiety disorder

Risk Factors

Risk factors for anxiety disorders depend in part on the specific disorder. General risk factors include:

- Gender. With the exception of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), women have twice the risk for most anxiety disorders as men.

- Age. Phobias, OCD, and separation anxiety typically show up early in childhood, while social phobia and panic disorder often develop during the teen years.

- Traumatic Events. Traumatic events can trigger anxiety disorders, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder.

- Medical Conditions. Although causal relationships have not been established, certain medical conditions have been associated with increased risk of panic disorder. They include migraines, obstructive sleep apnea, mitral valve prolapse, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, and premenstrual syndrome.


The standard approach to treating most anxiety disorders is a combination of talk therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and an antidepressant medication. Other types of medications (benzodiazepines, azapirones, beta blockers, or atypical antipsychotics) may also be prescribed. A healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, adequate rest, and good nutrition can also help to reduce the impact of anxiety.

Drug Approval

In 2012, the FDA approved a generic version of citalopram (Celexa).

PTSD and Military Personnel

In 2012, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report calling for improved access to care and more effective treatment for soldiers and veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to the IOM, PTSD affects between 13 ? 20% of U.S. military service members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

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