History of Anxiety Disorders

When were anxiety disorders first recognized as psychiatric ailment and how anxiety disorders' presence have been evolving.Anxiety Disorders were only recognized in 1980 by the American Psychiatric Association. Before this recognition people experiencing one of these Disorders usually received a generic diagnosis of 'stress' or 'nerves'. As there was no understanding of the Disorders by the health professionals, very few people received effective treatment. Since 1980, international research has shown the severe disabilities associated with these Disorders. Most of these disabilities can be prevented with early diagnosis and effective treatment.

These disabilities include agoraphobia, drug and/or alcohol abuse and major depression.

Recently, there has been more media on the prevalence of Anxiety, panic attacks and Anxiety Disorders. As more people become aware of the presence of anxiety disorders, there is more interest in the appropriate treatment of these disorders. Anxiety Disorders carry less stigma now as more-and-more people from all walks of life report to their health professionals for treatment.

It was often thought that Anxiety Disorders and panic attacks were a "women's problem." This is certainly untrue. Although men are more hesitant to present for treatment, both women and men are affected by these Disorders.

Although Anxiety Disorders have been on recently officially recognized, they have existed throughout the history of mankind. Many great and influential people in history have reported experiencing panic attacks and Anxiety Disorders.

The various treatments that they received is diverse and sometimes humorous. In many cases, the treatments offered were ineffective, and sometimes quite dangerous to the person. Some treatments that were used previously were various herbs and balms (in the medieval/ ancient times), bathing in extremely cold rivers and streams, hydropathy (applying extreme temperatures to the body), health spas, blood letting (with the use of leeches). With the dawn of psychoanalysis and Freud, many people turned to the therapist's couch as a solution to their experience with an Anxiety Disorder. With the advent of pharmaceuticals, drugs were prescribed heavily for people presenting with an Anxiety Disorder (although it was not called an Anxiety Disorder at this time).

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2008, October 2). History of Anxiety Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Last Updated: July 1, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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