Lancet. 2016 Dec 17;388(10063):3048-3059. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(16)30381-6. Epub 2016 Jun 24.


Anxiety disorders (separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, specific phobias, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and generalised anxiety disorder) are common and disabling conditions that mostly begin during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. They differ from developmentally normative or stress-induced transient anxiety by being marked (ie, out of proportion to the actual threat present) and persistent, and by impairing daily functioning. Most anxiety disorders affect almost twice as many women as men. They often co-occur with major depression, alcohol and other substance-use disorders, and personality disorders. Differential diagnosis from physical conditions-including thyroid, cardiac, and respiratory disorders, and substance intoxication and withdrawal-is imperative. If untreated, anxiety disorders tend to recur chronically. Psychological treatments, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy, and pharmacological treatments, particularly selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors and serotonin-noradrenaline-reuptake inhibitors, are effective, and their combination could be more effective than is treatment with either individually. More research is needed to increase access to and to develop personalised treatments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use*


  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors