Anxiety is common and can be self-generating since the symptoms reinforce the reaction, often causing it to get worse and worse.
Initial manifestations appear before age 40. There is a slightly greater tendency for this condition to occur in women.
The disabling anxiety symptoms of apprehension, worry, irritability, hypervigilance (preparation for threat), insomnia, and somatic (bodily) complaints are long-lasting and persist for at least one month.
Diagnosis is made based on a complete medical history and physical examination as well as mental status examination. Underlying medical disorders must be ruled out, including conditions involving the heart, lungs, and endocrine glands, issues of substance abuse, and neurologic disorders.
Treatment may involve medications (SSRIs, benzodiazepines, buspirone), behavioral approaches (desensitization to the anxiety-producing situation, relaxation techniques), group, family, or couples therapy, and peer support groups.