Alies Muskin, executive director of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), recently agreed to an interview in advance of National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week, May 4-10.
Q: As the leader in research for anxiety and related disorders, please share the variety of ways Anxiety and Depression Association of America helps improve the lives of millions of children and adults.
A: Our website offers a great variety of educational resources, all available for free. Many people who are suffering with anxiety disorders feel they are alone, unaware that millions experience similar symptoms. One of our goals is to educate those people and their loved ones about the disorders and effective treatments.
The site also has some specific information for children and teens, college students, women, older adults, and military members and their families. It also offers videos, podcasts and webinars with expert therapists. Another goal is to help people get the treatment they need. We respond to tens of thousands of email and phone requests each year about how to find a local therapist, clinical trial or support group.
Q: The facts and statistics section of your website states that anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States, affecting 18 percent of the U.S. population. This statistic means that a staggering 40 million American adults age 18 and older suffer from anxiety. Why do you think only one third of those 40 million people receive treatment?
A: Unlike the everyday anxiety or sadness we all feel from time to time, the physical and psychological symptoms associated with anxiety disorders and depression are often so intense that they stop people from doing the very things they want and often love to do. People with these disorders look fine, but they are embarrassed and afraid to tell people what is actually wrong or how they are feeling because it might be trivialized. Others may think they should be able to overcome this on their own. There is still a great deal of stigma around seeking treatment for mental health disorders. There are good, effective treatments available for these disorders and ADAA strives to increase awareness of these treatments and help people find the help they need to lead healthy lives.
Q: Why is it so common for someone with anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression?
A: Anxiety disorders are ubiquitous and they can exist on their own and as a complication of other disorders, such as depression. We also know that anxiety disorders are developmental disorders that appear in children and teens. Anxiety is associated with relapse and the development of multiple disorders. Early diagnosis and treatment is important.
Q: Although anxiety disorders are so prevalent, why do you believe there’s still a stigma? How does ADAA work to reduce that stigma?
A: Stigma happens for many reasons. ADAA believes that education and credible, available information is the best way to end stigma. We provide information in many formats to help all who are affected by these disorders.
Q: How treatable are anxiety disorders? Please share how ADAA helps link people to the right health-care professionals.
A: Anxiety disorders are very treatable. There are good accessible treatments for adults and children in both medications and psychotherapies. ADAA links people to health professionals who specialize in treating these disorders.
In honor of National Anxiety and Depression Awareness Week (May 4-10), Cherokee McGhee Publishing will be donating a $1 to Anxiety and Depression Association of America for every e-book and paperback copy of the award-winning novel The Grace of Crows purchased on Amazon from May 4-10, 2014. The Grace of Crows, by Tracy Shawn, is the story about how an anxiety-ridden woman finds happiness through the most unexpected of ways — and characters.
— Tracy Shawn, M.A., is a local writer whose debut novel, The Grace of Crows (published by Cherokee McGhee Publishing) is available on Amazon and other online bookstores. The Grace of Crows is about what happens after an anxiety-ridden woman reconnects with a childhood friend who is now a homeless man living under a pier in Malibu. Click here for more information about Shawn, or click here to visit her author page on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter: @TracyShawn. The opinions expressed are her own.