Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Common Types of Anxiety Disorders

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder (SAD), also known as social phobia, is an anxiety disorder characterized by intense fear in social situations causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some part of daily life. Sure, many people get nervous when giving a speech or during an interview, but social  anxiety disorder or social phobia is more than just shyness or occasional nerves.  SAD is one of the most common mental disorders with up to 13% of the general population experiencing symptoms at some point in their life.

The difference between shyness and SAD relates to the severity and persistence of the symptoms that are experienced. Those who suffer, experience overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. They have an intense fear of being watched and judged by others, making work, school, and other ordinary activities very difficult. Those dealing with SAD, many times realize their fears are excessive or unreasonable, but are unable to overcome them.

If left untreated, this can become severe. In severe cases, social situations are avoided at all costs.

Panic Disorder
Individuals with panic disorder have repeated, unexpected attacks of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms such as sweating, chest pain, heart palpitations, or a feeling of choking. Sufferers of panic attacks often report a fear or sense of dying, "going crazy," or experiencing a heart attack or "flashing vision," feeling faint or nauseated, a numb sensation throughout the body, heavy breathing (and almost always, hyperventilation), or losing control of themselves. Some people also suffer from tunnel vision, mostly due to blood flow leaving the head to more critical parts of the body in defense. These feelings may provoke a strong urge to escape or flee the place where the attack began (a consequence of the sympathetic "fight-or-flight response"). 

People who have full-blown, repeated panic attacks can become very disabled by their condition and should seek treatment before they start to avoid places or situations where panic attacks have occurred in the past.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop following a traumatic or life-threatening event such as war, the unexpected death of a loved one, rape, assault, a plane crash or a natural disaster.  The normal response to any trauma is shock, however, over time these symptoms lessen. With PTSD, you remain in this heightened state of mental shock and symptoms worsen, instead of the normal gradual decrease in symptoms.

Diagnostic symptoms for PTSD include re-experiencing the original trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma, and increased arousal—such as difficulty falling or staying asleep and  anger.

Symptoms of PTSD can be severe and cause significant problems at home, work, or other areas of life.  With treatment, PTSD can be dealt with.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety, or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room.

Individuals with OCD often recognize their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors as irrational, but still feel unable to resist them. It's normal, on occasion, to double-check if the stove is on, or to be concerned about the well-being of a loved one. But if these thoughts or behaviors become excessive and begin to keep a person from performing the responsibilities necessary to lead a normal life, seeking professional help is recommended.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry. Individuals typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems, relationship problems or work difficulties. This excessive worry often interferes with daily function.

This type of constant anxiety takes a physical toll causing body aches, poor sleep patterns and constant exhaustion.


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