1. What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety is a relatively normal reaction to stressful situations. For some individuals, however, anxiety can become crippling if experienced in excess. Too much anxiety can become difficult to manage, and can negatively affect everyday life.
Research suggests that anxiety disorders stem from a complex interplay between genetic, psychological, environmental, and developmental factors.
3. Signs and Symptoms
Overall, anxiety disorders symptoms center around excessive and irrational fear.
4. Who is at Risk?
Anxiety disorders impact the lives of about 40 million American adults. Women are more vulnerable to anxiety disorders. Studies show that about 60% of women are more likely than men to experience anxiety disorder over their lifetime.
Anxiety can manifest itself differently, through issues such as: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and various types of phobias. A mental health care professional must conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the cause of the anxiety, in order to determine the exact type of anxiety.
Anxiety disorders are treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both. Every individual is different and treatment is usually tailored specifically to the individual case. Individuals who have received treatment for anxiety disorder in the past, should discuss the nature of treatment with their current doctor. It is important to share what kind of medication was used in the past, the dosage of medication and side effects, and whether the treatment was successful. Information about previous psychotherapy treatment, such as describing the type of therapy, frequency of therapy sessions, and overall usefulness of therapy treatment, is also important to share.
7. Living With Anxiety Disorder
Living with anxiety disorder can be extremely crippling and painful, but there is hope for individuals living with this disorder. Therefore, if you suffer from anxiety disorder, you should not hesitate to seek psychological treatment.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
1. What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?
GAD is excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities. The intensity, duration, and/or frequency of the anxiety and worry is out of proportion to the actual likelihood or impact of the anticipated event. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worrying. Keeping distressing thoughts from interfering with attention to tasks at hand is also a great challenge.
Many individuals with GAD report that they have felt anxious and nervous all of their lives. Data indicates that GAD is caused by a number of factors: genetic, environmental, psychological and/or developmental.
3. Signs and Symptoms
Some symptoms for GAD are excessive anxiety and worry occurring more days than not, for at least 6 months. People find it hard to control their worrying which causes problems in their everyday life. Anxiety and worry are associated with some of the following: restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating or mind going blank, irritability, and having sleep disturbances.
4. Who is at Risk?
Anyone is at risk; however, adult women are more at risk than adult men. Also, those of European decent tend to experience GAD more than other ethnicities. Finally, those who live in developed countries are more likely than individuals from non-developed countries to suffer from GAD.
A doctor must conduct a careful diagnostic evaluation to determine whether a person’s symptoms are caused by an anxiety disorder or a physical problem. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the type of disorder or the combination of disorders that are present must be identified, as well as any coexisting conditions, such as depression or substance abuse. Sometimes alcoholism, depression, or other coexisting conditions have such a strong effect on the individual that treating the anxiety disorder must wait until the coexisting conditions are brought under control.
In general, anxiety disorders are treated with medication, specific types of psychotherapy, or both. Treatment choices depend on the problem and the person’s preference. People often believe that they have “failed” at treatment or that the treatment didn’t work for them when, in fact, it was not given for an adequate length of time or was administered incorrectly.
7. Living With GAD
Living with GAD can be very difficult. A person with GAD might find themselves slowed down in everything that they do, focusing on daily tasks can be challenging. Their work and relationships can be influenced in a negative way. But there is hope. If you think you suffer from GAD, consulting with your physician and seeking mental health professional help can benefit you greatly.
1. What is Obsessive – Compulsive disorder?
A person who suffers from Obsessive – Compulsive Disorder may have repetitive thoughts that they cannot control and that cause them distress and interfere with their life in a variety of ways. These thoughts are not just about real life worries, they may be thoughts of violence or acts prohibited by religious beliefs. Often, people who suffer from these distressing thoughts try to ignore or suppress them with very little or no success. These thoughts are called obsessions.
Some people with OCD perform repetitive behaviors that are called compulsions. These behaviors can include anything from repetitive hand washing to counting. Other examples include hoarding, extreme tidiness, checking on doors or stoves repetitively. These repetitive acts are done in order to prevent something bad from happening or to reduce distress or anxiety. For instance, a person who counts to themselves, thinking that it will prevent someone they care for from dying in a car crash, is engaged in compulsive behavior.
2. What causes OCD?
No one knows what causes OCD. A lot of research is being done on brain function and brain formations, which might lead to a clearer understanding. There is some research suggesting that tic disorders and Tourette’s syndrome are related to OCD. All of these disorders have some genetic link and run in families.
3. What are the signs and symptoms of OCD?
OCD is characterized by repeated thoughts or images that cause distress, or repeated rituals like hand – washing, repetitively checking to see if doors are locked, counting or hoarding that is believed to be necessary to prevent harm or alleviate distress (when the actions are unrelated to the harm sought to be prevented). The thoughts and rituals take at least 1 hour a day and can get in the way of normal living. Most adults suffering from OCD realize that their repetitive actions are unreasonable, but they cannot control them.
4. Who is at Risk?
OCD can affect adults or children, women and men. For most people, the thoughts and ritual behaviors begin by early adulthood. For some people, they begin in childhood. It is important to see a mental health professional as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the more successful the outcome of the treatment will be.
OCD is often found with other disorders. This means that people who have suffered the distress of OCD are often also suffering from anxiety and/or depression. Often in an attempt to relieve anxiety, persons who suffer from OCD abuse drugs or alcohol. Before making a diagnosis, a psychologist will need to look at the length of time with the disorder and the severity of the obsessions or compulsions. To make a diagnosis, the psychologist will need to determine whether all of the symptoms (see above) necessary for the disorder are present, and make sure that all other disorders are also diagnosed so they can be treated.
There are a variety of psychological treatments available depending on the nature of the obsessions or compulsions. The treatment will focus on understanding and preventing the disturbing thoughts. The treatment will also focus on reducing sensitivity to anxiety producing situations through imagery and other modalities. In addition, your psychologist will provide you with educational materials and coping strategies you can use at home.
Research has shown that when OCD first manifests itself in childhood, treatment may require medication and a longer course of psychotherapy. Your psychologist will work with a psychiatrist to ensure the proper treatment plan.
7. Living with OCD?
Someone who lives with OCD faces extreme distress and anxiety; various worrisome thoughts and unreasonable rituals may be often embarrassing for them. This can lead to an avoidance social situations, and difficulties at work and at school. OCD is disruptive because rituals take time and require secrecy, and distressing thoughts easily impair one’s ability to concentrate. But there is hope. If you think you suffer from OCD, consulting with your physician and seeking mental health professional help can benefit you greatly.
1. What is Panic Disorder?
People who suffer from panic disorder have sudden and repeated attacks of fear itself. Unlike a specific fear, like fear of spiders or heights, panic attacks appear to come “out of the blue.” When a panic attack surfaces, the person often feels like they are losing control or having a heart attack. A rapid heartbeat, nausea, sweating and dizziness often accompany the attacks. These attacks can last for several minutes.
Unlike fear of a specific trigger like fear of heights or spiders, panic disorder has been called “fear of fear.” Because the attacks come “out of the blue” it is hard to say that a particular incident is the cause of the panic attacks. It appears, however, that some people are over aware of very small changes in their body, even a small change in body temperature or a small change in heart rate can trigger a panic attack. This over awareness may be as a result of life stresses, learning, or the particular ways in which their brains respond to bodily cues. There is some research to suggest that panic disorder may run in families.
3. Signs and Symptoms
The physical symptoms of panic disorder can include: chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness and lightheadedness, racing heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath or the feeling of choking. Often patients fear of losing control or going crazy, and/or a fear of dying. Panic disorder also includes worry (that lasts for more than a month) about future attacks and/or changing behavior because of worry about future attacks.
4. Who is at Risk?
Panic attacks can hit anyone, but most people who have panic disorder are women. While the first panic attack often strikes teenagers, a first attack can also occur at any age.
Mental health professionals will ask a number of questions to determine whether the panic attacks are affecting normal everyday functioning or causing worry and distress for more than one month. A complete physical exam is also important to undertake to make sure that there are no underlying heart, thyroid or other problems that may be the cause of the symptoms.
Panic disorder can be successfully treated with a variety of treatments. In severe cases, medications are combined with psychotherapy to improve long-term symptom reduction. In less severe cases, psychotherapy alone is the preferred treatment. Psychologists will usually pair cognitive therapies with behavioral treatments that include breathing exercises, meditation and mindfulness exercises. In addition, the psychologist will help the patient to make lifestyle changes that can help reduce overall life stress.
7. Living with Panic Disorder?
Living with panic disorder means living in fear of the next panic attack, the fear of feeling like one is choking or having a heart attack. Someone with panic disorder may often be afraid that they are losing their mind, which can keep them house bound. Afraid to venture out, they may lose the enjoyment of everyday life and become more and more isolated. But there is hope. If you think you suffer from panic disorder, consulting with your physician and seeking mental health professional help can benefit you greatly.
Social Anxiety Disorder
1. What is Social Anxiety Disorder?
Social anxiety is characterized by a fear of being negatively evaluated in a social situation. It is associated with a severe discomfort with unfamiliar situations and/or people. Social anxiety is not the same thing as shyness; though they share certain features, social phobia is markedly more distressing. It negatively impacts one’s social interaction, one’s occupation, and other important areas of everyday functioning.
Personality traits, such as behavioral inhibition and fear of negative evaluation, make some people more vulnerable to social anxiety. These traits are genetically influenced and they run in families. Additional risk factors are certain environmental concerns, such as childhood maltreatment and adversity.
3. Signs and Symptoms
People with social anxiety commonly fear embarrassment, which greatly interferes with or prevents social activities. They commonly experience low self-esteem, lack of assertiveness, fear of criticism, and fear of public speaking (e.g. in group discussions or giving a presentation to a group). Unreasonable fear of new places and unfamiliar people (e.g. fear of talking with a store clerk) or a severe self-consciousness that interferes with one’s functioning in these situations is also a significant difficulty.
4. Who is at Risk?
Studies indicate that anywhere from 3 % to 13 % of people suffer from some form of social anxiety. In most cases, the onset of social phobia is between 8 and 15 years, but it also affects adults. Older adults also experience social anxiety, but it is usually less intense and can be related to a broader range of situations.
Social phobia usually develops in adolescence and is preceded by a less severe form of shyness. It may develop gradually or follow a public embarrassment (e.g. poor school presentation performance). Social phobia also co-occurs with other anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and substance abuse disorders.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is commonly used to treat social anxiety. Although CBT is an effective mode of therapy treatment of this condition, other forms of psychotherapy have also demonstrated effectiveness (e.g. Exposure Therapy or Social Skills Training).
7. Living With Social Anxiety
Social anxiety can negatively influence someone’s job performance and social life. For instance, one may have difficulties taking on a job promotion because it involves speaking in public. Engaging in romantic relationships can also be a great challenge; many people who struggle with social anxiety are often single and unmarried. People living with social anxiety can also find it very difficult to seek treatment, it has been discovered that people in Western societies seek treatment only after 15-20 years of experiencing symptoms. But there is hope. If you think you suffer from social anxiety, seeking mental health professional help can benefit you greatly.