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A Look at Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal reaction that many people experience. An anxiety disorder, however, is diagnosed when various symptoms of anxiety create significant distress and some degree of functional impairment in daily living. A person with an anxiety disorder may find it difficult to function in areas of life such as social interactions, family relationships, work or school.

1. Panic Disorder: A panic attack is a sudden onset of intense apprehension, fearfulness, or terror, often associated with feelings of impending doom. These attacks include symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, and choking or smothering sensations. Panic disorder is diagnosed when there are recurrent unexpected panic attacks.

2. Agoraphobia: Often when people have panic attacks the episodes are so overwhelming they will do anything to avoid having the experience again. This avoidance behaviour is called agoraphobia. People often think agoraphobia means fear of crowds or open spaces, but it is actually a fear of having a panic attack in a situation where you feel your escape might be difficult (or embarrassing), or where help might not be available.

3. Social Anxiety Disorder: Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is the most common anxiety disorder. It is a condition that involves fear of being appraised or judged negatively by others and as a result, feeling embarrassed or humiliated. People with social anxiety disorder, can become quite afraid of making presentations or public speaking, eating in restaurants or in front of anyone, going to social gatherings, blushing in public, meeting new people, etc.

4. Specific Phobia: Many people admit to being afraid of snakes and spiders but they can manage their fears quite well. With specific phobias, however, the fear is not manageable. Instead, the person experiences overwhelming fear when faced with a particular object or situation, and this often leads to avoidance behaviour. There are many types of objects, animals and situations that can trigger this type of fear, including, flying, driving, snakes, spiders, other animals, heights, bridges, tunnels, dentists, doctors, elevators, blood, injections, storms.

5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when a person has been exposed to traumatic events that cause her to experience distressing psychological symptoms that can become disabling. Common symptoms include nightmares; feelings of anger, irritability or emotional numbness; detachment from others; and flashbacks, during which the person re-lives the traumatic event. Frequently, the person will try to avoid situations or activities that remind her of the event.

6. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: Obsessive compulsive disorder is a condition in which a person experiences intrusive thoughts, images or impulses. These are often very disturbing to you and may make the person feel anxious (obsessions). In turn, the person may perform certain acts or rituals in order to feel better or less anxious (compulsions). Typically, obsessions include fears of contamination, doubting (such as worrying that the iron has not been turned off), thoughts of hurting others, disturbing thoughts that go against the person’s religious beliefs, or thoughts of performing acts the person feels are highly inappropriate. Compulsions can involve repeated checking, counting, washing, touching, or organizing things over and over again until they are symmetrical or ‘just right.’

7. Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Everybody worries from time- to-time. It is considered a normal part of life, but when worry starts to interfere with life, a person might have generalized anxiety disorder. The disorder is characterized by chronic anxiety and worry. Symptoms are mainly physical and include nausea, fatigue, muscle tension, restlessness and problems with concentration.

Filed under counselling psychology therapy mental illness anxiety anxiety disorders psychological disorders psychiatry self improvement self help online counselling college

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