Anxiety Disorders: Q & A with Dr. Paul Foxman

Why and how does anxiety develop?

Anxiety is related to the survival instinct. Normally, we react self-protectively to threat or danger with the “fight, flight or freeze response.” This state of high mental alertness and physical arousal prepares us to “fight”, “flee”, or “freeze” from perceived danger. However, the fear reaction can occur when there is no present danger or threat. For example, children and adults can struggle with performance around work or school assignments. Sometimes, concerns around performance can cause an adult or child to avoid completing the assignment or taking on new assignments and projects. This performance anxiety can start to negatively impact the child's or adult's ability to complete work on time, and may even cause the adult or child to refuse to attend school or go to work.   In other words, anxiety is the fear reaction to perception or anticipation of danger when no actual threat is present. Sensitive people—those who react strongly to external or internal experiences—have a higher risk of developing anxiety. In an effort to control anxiety, we may avoid certain situations, worry frequently, or develop obsessive or compulsive behaviors. These patterns are not productive and they usually interfere with daily life.

What is the difference between common experiences of anxiety and anxiety that interferes with daily life?

Anxiety can be a very common experience. Taking an exam, starting school or college, meeting with a boss or authority figure, or having a near accident can all evoke anxiety. Anxiety can even be helpful and motivating in preparing for a challenge or change. There are also some natural worries in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood such as: concerns about school/work performance, appearance, social acceptance, major life transitions, and death of parents.

Resource Organizations » Anxiety Disorders » Acton-Boxborough

In Massachusetts

MGH Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders


The Center is investigating the efficacy of treatments for Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Complicated Grief, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, while seeking to learn more about the underlying causes and course of Anxiety Disorders.

National Center for PTSD

(802) 296-6300 (Information Voicemail Line)


The National Center for PTSD is dedicated to excellence in research and education on the prevention, understanding, and treatment of PTSD. Its purpose is to improve the well-being and understanding of veterans and others suffering from PTSD. The website includes the definition of PTSD, fact sheets on topics related to PTSD, and information of finding professional help.

School Psychiatry Program and MADI Resource Center

For Children and Adolescents: 617-726-2725

For Adults: 617-724-7792

Email: is a joint project of the School Psychiatry Program and the Mood & Anxiety Disorders Institute (MADI) Resource Center, both of the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). is committed to enhancing the education and mental health of every student in every school. The Mood & Anxiety Disorders Institute (MADI) Resource Center translates the latest research advances into practical information, helping people work with their clinicians toward the most accurate diagnosis and best possible treatment results. The Center also offers resources and support to help people manage daily living with mood and anxiety disorders and cope with the disorders' effects on family relationships.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness - Veteran and Service Member Resources


Toll Free: 800-370-9085 (M-F 9am-5pm)

Fax: 617-580-8673


The National Alliance on Mental Illness maintains a helpline for information on mental illnesses and referrals to local groups. The local self-help groups have support and advocacy components and offer education and information about community services for diverse communities comprising of LGBTQ individuals, veterans, active duty military members, teens, young adults, older adults and families. Local chapters can be found through the main website. For information about the Alliance's affiliates and activities in MA, contact NAMI Massachusetts.

Outside Massachusetts

Organizations with hotlines

Crisis Text Line

Text START: 741-741

Crisis Text Line serves young people in any type of crisis, providing them access to free, 24/7, emotional support and information they need via the medium they already use and trust: text. Just text "START" to 741-741. Here's how it works:

  • A teen texts into CTL anywhere, anytime.
  • A live, trained specialist receives the text and responds quickly.
  • The specialist helps the teen stay safe and healthy with effective, secure counseling and referrals through text message using CTL's platform.

CTL partners with existing organizations that are experienced, highly trained, and well-equipped to respond to teens in crisis: experienced crisis centers, youth-serving organizations, and experts in the youth and mental health fields. CTL also lists resources on a variety of topics with helplines or email addresses where they can learn about additional support.

Organizations without hotlines

Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA)



The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) - formerly The Anxiety Disorders Association of America - is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote the prevention, treatment and cure of anxiety disorders and to improve the lives of all people who suffer from them. ADAA is dedicated to informing the public, health care professionals, and media that anxiety disorders are real, serious, and treatable. ADAA promotes professional and public awareness of anxiety and related disorders (such as PTSD, OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety) and their impact on people's lives. The organization also links people who need treatment with the health care professionals who provide it. The ADAA website also provides listings of anxiety disorder support groups offered across the United States.


(604) 620-0744

AnxietyBC contains a wealth of information to help people learn about and practice effective strategies to manage anxiety on their own, at their own pace. All content is grounded in scientific research and developed by professionals who specialize in helping people with anxiety.

Authentic Happiness


Authentic Happiness is the homepage of Dr. Martin Seligman, Director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania and founder of positive psychology, a branch of psychology which focuses on the empirical study of such things as positive emotions, strengths-based character, and healthy institutions.Positive psychology theory and research has been applied across many domains, from education to health to neuroscience. Now on Authentic Happiness you can read overviews of some of the largest initiatives currently underway, including: positive health, positive education, comprehensive soldier fitness, positive psychotherapy, and positive neuroscience.

Blue Pages

BluePages provides information on treatments for depression based on the latest scientific evidence. BluePages also offers screening tests for depression and anxiety, a depression search engine, and links to other helpful resources.

Freedom From Fear

(718) 351-1717


Freedom From Fear is a national not-for-profit mental health advocacy association. The mission of FFF is to impact, in a positive way, the lives of all those affected by anxiety, depressive and related disorders through advocacy, education, research and community support. There is plenty of information on anxiety and depression along with self-screening tools for these conditions, referrals for support groups and mental health professionals, and resources on accessing treatment for those with and without health insurance. This website contains valuable information based on research findings on anxiety and depressive illnesses and the treatments that work.

Geriatric Mental Health Foundation

(703) 556-9222


The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation was established by the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry to raise awareness of psychiatric and mental health disorders affecting the elderly, eliminate the stigma of mental illness and treatment, promote healthy aging strategies, and increase access to quality mental health care for the elderly. Explore the site for mental health information for older adults and their families, to find a geriatric psychiatrist, for news of Foundation programs and events, and much more.

Man Therapy

Man Therapy is giving men a resource they desperately need: a resource to help men understand the realities of suicide and mental health, in the hopes of helping put a stop to the suicide deaths of so many. This interactive website featuring "Dr. Rich Mahogany" provides psychoeducational information geared towards men about stress, anger, depression, substance abuse and suicide, as well as tools to manage these concerns. It also includes an "18 point head inspection" where men can take a survey about how they are coping, and there is a provider search screen with options from groups and active activities to lists of professional counselors.

Mental Health America

Toll-Free: 800-969-6642

Office: 703-684-7722

TTY: 800-433-5959

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. With more than 320 affiliates nationwide, they represent a growing movement of Americans who promote mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation -- everyday and in times of crisis.

Mood Gym

MoodGYM is an Australian website with an interactive program designed to help you:

  • Identify whether you are having problems with emotions like anxiety and depression,
  • Learn skills that can help you cope with these emotions.

MoodGYM is based on two programs which are successful in preventing and treating depression and anxiety. These are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Interpersonal Therapy. MoodGYM is designed to be used by people who would like to prevent mental health problems or manage problems which are troubling but not incapacitating. MoodGYM is not specifically designed for use by people with clinical levels of depression or anxiety. MoodGYM suggests that those with depression scores above 2-3 seek contact with a health professional.

Project Semicolon



"Project Semicolon is an organization devoted to the prevention of suicide. Our work is based on the foundation and belief that suicide is preventable and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide. Through raising public awareness, educating communities, and equipping every person with the right tools, we know we can save lives."


This organization also provides information and resources about other mental health topics and disorders as well as the chance to share one's own story, personal screenings tools, and helps one find services right on their website.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network

Helpline for Resource and Referral: 800-826-3632



The Balanced Mind Parent Network (BMPN), a program of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), guides families raising children with mood disorders to the answers, support and stability they seek. The Balanced Mind Foundation envisions a world where children living with mood disorders thrive because their families have the resources, community and support they need.

Worry Wise Kids

This site was launched because of the urgent need to address the growing needs of our children to be equipped to cope with and overcome the stress, worry and anxieties in their life. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for anxious children and their families by providing parents, educators and mental health professionals with comprehensive, user-friendly information on the full range of anxiety disorders. Because children may be secretive about their worries and suffer in silence, our goal is to help adults who care about kids to be on the lookout for red flags. We offer information about treatment options, kid-friendly explanations for the mechanisms that create and maintain anxiety, parenting do's and don'ts, how to handle school issues and more.