Updated 04 February 2016

Preventing anxiety disorders

There's no way to predict for certain what will cause someone to develop an anxiety disorder, but you can take steps to reduce the impact of symptoms if you experience anxiety


The causes of anxiety disorders are unknown and thus, at this stage, knowing how to prevent their development is difficult. While we currently do not have the answers, research into anxiety prevention is growing and some initial evidence shows promising results.

Early treatment can perhaps prevent the level of disability/dysfunction reached when suffering from anxiety disorders.

Early treatment may help prevent the development of co-existing conditions such as depression and alcoholism.

Early treatment of panic disorder can often stop the progression to agoraphobia.

There is also some preliminary evidence to suggest that early treatment of a person who has been exposed to a terrifying trauma may prevent the onset of PTSD


What are anxiety disorders? 

Control your breathing to manage anxiety 

Music, massage soothe anxiety 


Reviewed by Dr Stefanie van Vuuren,  MB ChB (Stell), M Med (Psig) (Stell), FC (Psych)SA, Psychiatrist in private practice, Cape Town.  February 2015.

Previously reviewed by Dr Soraya Seedat, psychiatrist and co-director, MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders.


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Depression expert

Michael Simpson has been a senior psychiatric academic, researcher, and Professor in several countries, having worked at London University in the UK; McMaster University in Canada; Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.; and the University of Natal in South Africa.

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