FAQ: The Facts About Anxiety Disorders

Dr. Erin Olivo answers common questions about the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Posted on | By Erin L. Olivo, PhD
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The Link Between Anxiety and Fear (3:30)

What are anxiety disorders?

Fear and anxiety are a normal part of everyday life, but for millions of people these emotions can become debilitating and significantly impact their quality of life. Essentially there are three main types of anxiety disorders, which include panic disorder, phobias (specific phobia, social phobia and agoraphobia), and generalized anxiety disorder. Each of these disorders have unique symptoms and contributing factors involving an experience of fear and anxiety that goes beyond the normal response to a stressful event.

Who is at risk?

The precise causes of anxiety disorders are still under investigation, but it seems that the areas of the brain responsible for fear responses are very different in people who develop the disorders. People with a family member who has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are also at higher risk of being diagnosed with one, indicating there could be a genetic component to their development.

Article written by Erin L. Olivo, PhD
Erin L. Olivo, PhD is an Asst. Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons