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Anxiety Disorders

Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. Feeling anxious in a particularly uncomfortable situation never feels very good. However, with kids, such feelings are not only normal, they’re also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare young people to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.

Many Anxieties and Fears Are Normal

Anxiety is defined as “apprehension without apparent cause.” It usually occurs when there’s no immediate threat to a person’s safety or well-being, but the threat feels real.

Anxiety makes someone want to escape the situation — fast. The heart beats quickly, the body might begin to perspire, and “butterflies” in the stomach soon follow. However, a little bit of anxiety can actually help people stay alert and focused.

About 19 million Americans have irrational fears, also called specific phobias, which can bring on anxiety.

They’re afraid of closed spaces or heights. They feel panicky during thunderstorms or around dogs. Some irrational fears double up, further increasing the anxiety. For instance, people who dread flying may also be uncomfortable sitting in a narrow tube, confined to their seat and surrounded by strangers, and they may worry about turbulence and storms.

Everyone worries or gets scared sometimes. But if you feel extremely worried or afraid much of the time, or if you repeatedly feel panicky, you may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders — which include panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder — are among the most common mental illnesses, affecting roughly 40 million American adults each year. Phobias — extreme or irrational fear of something — are also common and troublesome. Thankfully, there are numerous therapies to help control anxiety and phobias.