Generalized Anxiety Disorder: GAD is characterized by persistent anxiety, unrelated to a specific event. People suffering from GAD cannot help worrying about anything and everything, even in calm situations. They have difficulty relaxing, falling asleep, and/or concentrating, and tend to be impatient and irritable.
Physical symptoms accompanying GAD include: – sweating; an upset stomach; diarrhea; frequent urination; cold, clammy hands; a lump in the throat; a dry mouth; shortness of breath; headaches; and dizziness.
–Managing the normal demands of a job, relationships, and everyday life can become more and more difficult for people with this disorder. –GAD appears in four percent of the general population.
Panic Disorder Panic attacks are sudden, unexplainable waves of panic that seem to come out of the blue. The body responds with the "fight-or- flight" response, anticipating clear and immediate danger. Often, these attacks subside as mysteriously as they occur.
A person who has experienced one or more panic attacks often develops a fear of having one again. Some professionals call this a "fear of fear." The individual may even try to stay away from anything that reminds him or her of the last attack to avoid having another one.
People can have panic attacks with or without agoraphobia. These attacks include symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, feelings of choking or smothering, nausea, dizziness, sweating, and trembling. An afflicted person might also be overwhelmed by a fear of dying, going crazy, or losing control.
Phobias: Phobias are attempts to compartmentalize fear into a few situations that can be avoided. By attaching all the panicky feelings onto a few situations, the person can avoid those situations and go on with life. Unfortunately, phobias can take on a life of their own and take over more and more of a person's life.
A fear of dogs can, for example, be fairly easy to manage, just don't go near dogs. But a fear of flying may limit social and business opportunities. Some of the more common phobias include claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces), agoraphobia (fear of public places, sometimes related to panic attacks), and acrophobia (fear of heights).
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop in the wake of a traumatic event that is outside the usual human experience. A person either experiences direct or threatened injury, or witnesses the serious injury or death of another. In some cases, learning of the unexpected death or injury of a loved one can also bring on symptoms of PTSD.
For a diagnosis of PTSD to be made, there must be both an identifiable terrifying event and a response of intense fear, helplessness and horror, as well as one or more characteristic symptoms. These include re-experiencing of the event through: – nightmares – daytime flashbacks –physical sensations that recall the feelings present during the event.
PTSD Symptoms continued Shutting down feelings and memory. Feeling detached from others. Dissociating from the distressing memories and feelings. Hyperalertness to danger. The individual often has difficulty shutting down the fight- or-flight response that was activated during the event. This causes sleeplessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating, restlessness, and sometimes the development of an exaggerated startle. Hypervigilance and avoidance of any situation associated with the event. –These symptoms significantly disrupt an afflicted person’s daily life.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Although classified as an anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) differs from these disorders in significant ways. It is the one anxiety diagnosis that seems to have a clear biological cause. Unlike the other kinds of anxiety disorders, therapy alone isn't much help. Medication is also necessary. OCD is a disorder in which the mind is flooded with involuntary thoughts, or in which an individual feels compelled to repeat certain acts over and over again (for example, hand washing).
This disorder can interfere significantly with everyday living, and usually leads to concern and/or resentment among friends, family, and co-workers. A person who suffers from OCD doesn't want the thoughts and doesn't want to do the behaviors. Unfortunately, he or she really can't help it. About half the people with OCD report that it began in childhood; most others start in adolescence or early adulthood. OCD affects approximately two percent of the general population.