Disseminating treatment for anxiety disorders: Step 1: Recognizing the problem as a precursor to seeking help

Meredith E. Coles, Jessica R. Schubert, Richard G. Heimberg, Barry D. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Untreated mental illness is a substantial public health issue in the United States, with only approximately 1/3 of the estimated 46 million adults in the US with mental illness receiving treatment. Many of the individuals with mental illness suffer from excessive anxiety, as over 25% of Americans experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime and most of these individuals remain untreated. Building from the premise that recognizing one's symptoms precedes requests for help, the current paper presents data from 577 adults (50% Caucasian, 50% African American) in the US regarding their ability to recognize anxiety disorders. Findings from a national survey showed that when presented with detailed vignettes portraying symptoms and their impact, 50% of respondents correctly recognized depression, whereas less than 20% correctly recognized the anxiety disorders. Recognition that the symptoms were a cause for concern was much more common, with 75% or more of the sample noting concern. Responses were surprisingly similar across the two races, and few consistent moderators were found. In conclusion, increasing recognition of anxiety disorders may be a useful first step toward increasing service utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-740
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety disorders
  • Dissemination
  • Mental health literacy
  • Race
  • Treatment
  • Treatment-seeking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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