What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorders are characterized by feelings of alarm, worry or panic. While these feelings can be a normal response to life situations, they can be part of a disorder when the feelings interfere with function and getting needs met, instead of helping the person survive.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: the patient suffers from chronic daily feelings of anxiety or worry. This may be accompanied by patterns of thinking (such as catastrophic thinking) that exacerbates the feelings of anxiety.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: the patient suffers from repetitive thoughts which cause anxiety or distress and behaviors (compulsions) which serve to reduce the feelings of anxiety, usually only temporarily.
  • Panic Attacks: the patient has episodic feelings of impending doom, apprehension, fearfulness or terror. This may be accompanied by symptoms of rapid heart beat, sweating, shortness of breath, feeling that one is going to die, dizziness, chest pain, choking or a fear of “going crazy”.
  • Agoraphobia: the patient experiences fear when he or she is in a place where escape might be difficult or embarrassing. It may be accompanied by panic feelings. The person may not want to leave their house due to these feelings.
  • Social Phobia: the patient experiences anxiety in social situations. The patient may then avoid these situations.
  • Simple Phobia: the patient experiences in anxiety in certain situations or in response to being exposed to certain objects.

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