In any given year, the estimated percentage of U.S. adults with various anxiety disorders is:
Social Anxiety Disorder: 7%
Panic Disorder: 2% - 3%
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: 2%
Separation Anxiety Disorder: 0.9% - 1.9%
Women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorders.
Generalized anxiety disorder involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities. This ongoing worry and tension may accompany physical symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, or problems sleeping. Often the worries focus on everyday things such as job responsibilities, family health, or minor matters such as chores, car repairs, or appointments.
The core symptom of panic disorder is recurrent panic attacks, an overwhelming combination of physical and psychological distress.
A person with a social anxiety disorder has significant anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, or looked down on in social interactions. People with this disorder will try to avoid or endure the situation with great anxiety. Common examples are extreme fear of public speaking, meeting new people, or eating/drinking in public. The fear or anxiety causes problems with daily functioning and lasts at least six months.
A person with a separation anxiety disorder is excessively fearful or anxious about separation from those with whom he or she is attached. The feeling is beyond what is appropriate for the person's age, persists (at least four weeks in children and six months in adults), and causes problems functioning. A person with a separation anxiety disorder may persistently worry about losing the person closest to him or her, may be reluctant or refuse to go out or sleep away from home or without that person, or may experience nightmares about separation. Physical symptoms of distress often develop in childhood, but symptoms can carry through adulthood.
Although each anxiety disorder has unique characteristics, most respond well to two types of treatment: psychotherapy or "talk therapy" and medications. These treatments can be given alone or in combination.