According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety-related disorders are the most common mental disorder affecting children and adults. Forty million American adults suffer from anxiety-related disorders, but only about one-third receive treatment, even though these disorders are highly treatable.
People with anxiety-related disorders share a preoccupation with, or a persistent avoidance of, thoughts or situations that cause anxiety. Anxiety involves intense fear, worry, and distress brought on by anticipation of future problems. In an anxiety-related disorder, this anxiety is out of proportion with actual concerns.
Panic attacks are overwhelming bouts of terror and fright that often occur seemingly out of the blue. People suffering from a panic attack often feel as if they are going to die, lose control, or go crazy. Panic attacks involve many physical symptoms, such as sweating, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, chills and feeling out-of-sorts. When panic attacks interfere with a person's normal life, it's called Panic Disorder. Many people with panic disorder fear going out due to the possibility of a panic attack, and this is called agoraphobia. People suffering from agoraphobia avoid a variety of situations, and many can only leave when accompanied by another person who can offer comfort and security. More about panic disorder treatment.
Specific phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorder. A specific phobia is an unreasonable fear caused by the presence of a specific object or situation. Some of the most frequent types of specific phobia include, fear of heights, illness and injury, small animals and bugs, being in a small area, tunnels or bridges, storms, and specific kinds of public transportation.
Social Anxiety Disorder is similar to specific phobia, but instead contains the element of performance. People suffering from Social Phobia fear and avoid social situations because of anxiety about being embarrassed, disliked, or disappointing others. These fears fall into two categories: performance anxiety (such as public speaking) and interpersonal interactions (such as conversing with strangers at a party, or going on a date). Some people who suffer from social phobia are very shy, and feel anxious in almost every social situation, whereas others are simply afraid of a specific situation, such as public speaking or meeting with a superior. People with social anxiety disorder may use alcohol to help cope. More about social anxiety.
Excessive anxiety and worry about everyday concerns are the primary symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. People with GAD often feel keyed up or on edge, are easily fatigued, have difficulty in concentrating, sleep disturbance, and muscle tension. People with GAD are often described as worriers. Because of the generalized symptoms, people with GAD often meet criteria for major depressive disorder as well. More about generalized anxiety disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves distressing thoughts and compulsive behaviors that significantly interfere with normal life. Obsessions are unwanted, recurrent, and disturbing thoughts that can cause overwhelming anxiety. Common obsessions include fear of contamination, causing harm to another, making a mistake, behaving in a socially unacceptable manner, a need for symmetry or exactness, and recurrent doubt. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that the person feels driven to perform to neutralize the anxiety of the obsessions. Compulsions can be overt, such as washing, checking, arranging, and collecting, or covert, such as silent prayers and mental counting. More about obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Hoarding Disorder has recently been recognized as a separate disorder, related to OCD, but with some of its own unique features. People with hoarding disorder become attached to objects and have difficulty discarding. Sometimes the living space becomes so cluttered that rooms in the home are unusable. More about hoarding disorder.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder occurs after a stressful or catastrophic life event (such as severe car accident or being raped). Symptoms include reliving the stressful event in ones mind, feelings of disassociation, avoidance of anything to do with the traumatic event, and the experience of general anxiety. People most likely to suffer PTSD are those who have experienced rape or another sexual assault, combat veterans, or those who have been badly beaten up. The sudden death of a loved one also puts a person at a high risk for trauma that leads to PTSD. Natural disasters and serious car crashes are other traumatic events that can lead to PTSD. More about posttraumatic disorder.
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