Anxiety Disorders on the Rise

But treatments are increasingly effective

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(HealthDay) -- Feeling anxious? You're not alone.

According to an article from the Chicago Tribune, published in the The Record, of Bergen County, N.J., anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental disorders. More than 19 million Americans suffer from them during any given year, according to figures from the National Institute of Mental Health. But only one-third of the sufferers receive adequate treatment.

Researchers say anxiety disorders are the result of a complex combination of genetic, behavioral and developmental factors. In the 1980s, drug therapies were developed to help with anxiety disorders. These kind of problems often start when the part of the brain that controls the "fight or flight" mechanism starts firing at an abnormally high rate. That is called "autonomic overload." Usually it's the fibers of the norepinephrine-producing cells in the nucleus of the brain stem that are firing. Then, when you are introduced to a specific stimulus, the brain starts firing off again, even if you are not in imminent danger. When scientists discovered the connection to norepinephrine and neurotransmitters, they developed medications that modified that chemical transmission.

There are at least five different categories of anxiety disorders. They include panic disorders, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. The best treatment involves both medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, the article says.

To find out more about generalized anxiety disorder, you can read this article from American Family Physician, or this from the American Psychiatric Association.

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