Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety is a response to danger or threat. It is a natural state that can, in moderate degree and frequency, be a productive driving force. For millions of people, however, anxieties and fears are overwhelming and persistent, often drastically interfering with daily life. These people may be suffering from anxiety disorders, a widespread group of psychological disorders that can be terrifying and crippling. Fortunately, anxiety disorders are treatable and the vast majority of people with an anxiety disorder can be helped with the right professional care. The conditions classified as anxiety disorders include (but are not limited to):

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is characterized by a cluster of physical and cognitive symptoms including panic attacks (a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety), and anxiety/worry about the panic attacks or interference in a person's life caused by the panic attacks. During these attacks, symptoms such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, choking or smothering sensations, and fear of "going crazy" or losing control are present.
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Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is anxiety about, or avoidance of, places or situations where a person expects panic attacks or panic-like symptoms to occur, especially if it seems that escape might be difficult or help may not be available. Typical situations include being alone outside the home or being home alone, being in a crowd of people, traveling in a car, bus, or airplane, or being on a bridge or in an elevator. Some people are able to enter these situations but endure them with considerable distress.
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Specific Phobia

Specific Phobia is characterized by significant anxiety provoked by exposure to a specific feared object or situation, often leading to avoidance behavior to a degree that interferes with the person's life. Some examples include fears of heights, snakes, spiders, and closed-in situations. Typically, people with specific phobias recognize that their fear is excessive or unreasonable.
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Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by significant anxiety in social or performance situations, often leading to avoidance behavior. A person may have an intense fear of a single circumstance, such as public speaking, but be perfectly comfortable in all other social settings. Others may become anxious about a variety of social situations in which they might be judged by others.
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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions (or, intrusive thoughts, images or impulses) and/or by compulsions (or, repetitive actions the individual feels compelled to do). These obsessive thoughts typically reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears that have no basis in reality, and yet are persistent and disturbing. Typically, a person with OCD realizes that the ritual or "compulsion" makes no sense, but does it anyhow.
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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) refers to chronic and excessive worry about many different areas, such as finances, health, and the well being of others. Typical symptoms include difficulty controlling the tendency to worry, muscle tension, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, and poor concentration. GAD is characterized by at least six months of persistent and excessive anxiety and worry.
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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious, potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event, such as a natural disaster, serious accident, terrorist incident, sudden death of a loved one, war or violent personal assault, such as rape. While most people who experience such events recover from them, people with PTSD continue to be anxious for months or even years following the event. They frequently re-live the event through flashbacks and nightmares. Relaxing, concentrating or sleeping may become difficult. They often feel detached or estranged from loved ones.
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