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Anxiety Disorders: Help is on the way!

Anxiety disorders: An overview

anxiety disordersThe Anxiety Disorders Association of America have reported that anxiety disorders are the most common of the psychiatric illnesses, affecting both children and adults. They have reported that an estimated 19 million adult Americans suffer from anxiety disorders, and that unfortunately, only about a third of those suffering from anxiety disorders ever receive treatment, although they are very treatable. Anxiety disorders develop from various factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality and life events. Anxiety disorders usually fall within approximately six categories including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder and specific phobias.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):

Generalized anxiety disorder refers to excessive anxiety and worrying, occurring more days than not, for least six months. Persons with generalized anxiety disorder find it difficult to control their worries, frequently demonstrated by symptoms of restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbances. The disturbances may not be a direct result of the physiological effects of substance abuse or a general medical condition, or related to mood disorders, psychotic disorders or pervasive developmental disorders. The anxiety and worrying or physical symptoms, must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Obsessive compulsive disorder  is a very difficult anxiety disorder, in which an individual has either obsessions, which are recurrent and persistent thoughts, images or impulses which cause marked anxiety or distress and/or compulsions which are repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, checking doors, counting, praying etc. in order to allay anxiety At some time during the course of the disorder, individuals recognize that obsessions or compulsions are excessive and unreasonable. They must significantly interfere with an individuals ability to conduct their normal routine. They must not be due to the direct physiological effects of substance abuse or a general medical condition.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder:

Another very difficult anxiety disorder is post-traumatic stress disorder. In order for a diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, an individual must be exposed to a traumatic event in which they were confronted with the threat of actual death or serious injury, in which they responded with intense fear, helplessness or horror. The traumatic event must be persistently re-experienced with recurrent, intrusive recollections in which there is a feeling as if the traumatic event were re-occurring, causing intense, psychological distress and physiological reactivity. There must be avoidance of the stimuli associated with the trauma and persistent symptoms and increased arousal, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or angry outbursts, difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance and an exaggerated startle response. The duration of the disturbance must be for more than one month and must cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning to be considered an anxiety disorder.

By Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist

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