Anxiety is the most common mental health condition in the U.S. Roughly 40 million American adults suffer from an anxiety disorder (18% of the population). The rate is even higher among adolescents, with nearly 1 in 3 teens being affected by an anxiety disorder.
Everyone experiences anxiety at times. It’s natural to be nervous in certain situations–e.g., on a date, at a job interview, or before a presentation. But people with anxiety disorders tend to experience anxiety more frequently and often more intensely than other people. This can have a negative impact in numerous parts of a person’s life including one’s relationships, work/career, social life, and general sense of well-being. Anxiety can also lead to depression, substance abuse, isolation, and other challenges.
For many people, anxiety is characterized by excessive fear and worry. Other symptoms may include irritability, muscle tension, difficulty sleeping, and avoidance of situations that trigger anxiety. Anxiety can take several forms including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder (fear of social situations), phobias, panic, and agoraphobia (fear of being in open or enclosed places or outside one’s home alone).
Fortunately, anxiety is a treatable condition. Both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Because people with anxiety often worry about the future and what might go wrong, mindfulness and staying focused on the present moment can be very helpful in treating anxiety as well.