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Despite ongoing research on the aetiology, phenomenology and treatment of anxiety disorders, these conditions continue to afflict myriads of individuals worldwide. An estimated 11.6% of the global population meets criteria for an anxiety disorder each year,1 and individuals with anxiety disorders experience both functional impairment2 and increased risk for physical health problems.3 In addition to the personal suffering associated with anxiety disorders, these conditions lead to considerable costs for society, including medical expenditures and lost work productivity.4 Moreover, although efficacious interventions for anxiety disorders are available, many individuals do not respond to these treatments5 or struggle to access evidence-based care.6 Thus, much work remains to be done to reduce the global burden of anxiety disorders.
In response to this challenge, this special issue highlights emerging directions in the field of anxiety disorders research. Dr Jerrold Rosenbaum, emeritus Psychiatrist-in-Chief at the Massachusetts General Hospital, provides an introduction to the issue with a commentary on current challenges and opportunities in the field of anxiety disorders research.7 The articles that follow highlight a variety of approaches to reduce the suffering associated with anxiety disorders, including studies exploring the aetiology of anxiety and those examining novel methods for prevention, early intervention and treatment.
First, several authors present articles that explore biological and psychological factors associated with the development of anxiety disorders. For example, …
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