Anxiety Disorders

Fear and anxiety are a normal part of life — they can make you more alert or careful. But when these feelings become excessive and interfere with everyday functioning, it's called an anxiety disorder.

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Even though people who suffer from an anxiety disorder may realize the anxiety is excessive, they can't control the feelings or prevent them from impacting their lives. An anxiety disorder can cause chest pains, heart palpitations, nightmares or make you afraid to leave the house. Anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder – Excessive, unrealistic worry and tension that are prompted by minor issues or nothing at all.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – Frequent, upsetting thoughts (obsessions) that result in repetitive behaviors or rituals (compulsions) to control the thoughts.
  • Panic disorder – Feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning, often causing sweating, chest pain, choking or heart palpitations.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – After living through or seeing a traumatic event, fear and anxiety continues after the danger is over.
  • Phobia – Strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no danger, such as fear of heights (acrophobia), public places (agoraphobia) or closed-in spaces (claustrophobia).

Medical researchers don’t know the cause of anxiety disorders. Scientists believe that anxiety disorders probably result from a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological and developmental factors.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Unlike general anxiety, which is caused by a stressful event — such as public speaking or a work crisis — and fades shortly after, an anxiety disorder lasts at least six months and can worsen without treatment. Symptoms can range from sweating, shaking and hyperventilating to feeling like you’re having a heart attack or dying. Although each type of disorder has different symptoms, they’re all characterized by feelings of excessive, irrational fear and dread. 

Your doctor must evaluate your condition to determine whether your symptoms are being caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical condition. In many cases, anxiety disorders can occur along with other conditions, including a substance-use disorder or depression.


Anxiety disorders can be treated with medications or therapy or a combination of both. At the Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services, our team of psychiatrists, marriage and family therapists and other mental health professionals can provide care for these conditions. Our care team will perform an assessment and develop a personalized treatment plan, drawing from the full range of resources available at the Scrivner Center for Mental Health & Addiction Services.

Our mental health specialists offer comprehensive care, including intensive day treatment and dual-diagnosis care, for those who are struggling with an anxiety disorder and a substance-use disorder. We also offer specialized treatment for teens, expectant and new mothers and older adults facing anxiety disorders.

Our mental health professionals provide a safe, welcoming environment and deliver care with compassion and kindness.