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Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a normal part of life for most people, but for millions of Americans, anxiety disorder symptoms can be overwhelming and interfere with daily life. These people suffer from one or more anxiety disorders, all of which are terrifying but highly treatable illnesses.

Usually a combination of psychotherapy and medication is the most effective treatment for anxiety disorder symptoms, although many people find relief with therapy or medication alone. Treatment success rates vary based on the individual and the severity of illness present, and treatment is often complicated by factors such as substance abuse and/or depression.

Experts believe that anxiety disorders are caused or triggered by a combination of biological and environmental factors, including brain chemistry, genetics, personality characteristics, and life events.

Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses affecting both children and adults, and people who suffer from anxiety disorder symptoms are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than non-sufferers.

Visit the BPhoenix Anxiety Disorders Message Board.

Anxiety Disorders:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by an unrealistic and excessive worry that lasts 6 months or more. In adults, the anxiety must focus on everyday issues such as health, career, or money. In addition to chronic worry, Generalized Anxiety Disorder symptoms include some or all of the following: trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, irritability, and dizziness.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:
Individuals with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears. The obsessions may lead the individual to perform a ritual of some sort (compulsion) to relieve the anxiety triggered by the obsession. Common compulsions include cleaning, checking, repeating, hoarding, and arranging.

Panic Disorder:
People with Panic Disorder suffer from attacks of panic that occur for no apparent reason. These episodes of terror may make the person feel like they are having a heart attack or going crazy. Symptoms come on suddenly and include heart palpitations, sweating, trembling, chest pain, tingling sensations, fear of choking or dying, and feelings of unreality.
Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia, in which people fear having a panic attack in a place from which escape would be difficult. This fear causes the person to avoid these places.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can follow an exposure to a traumatic event, such as a physical or sexual assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, or a natural disaster. There are three main symptoms associated with PTSD: "reliving" of the traumatic event (flashbacks and nightmares), emotional numbing (detachment from other people) and avoidance behaviors (avoiding people or places related to the trauma), and physiological arousal, which includes difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, and irritability.

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia):
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause ridicule or embarrassment. This very intense anxiety often leads to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms associated with SAD include faintness, blushing, profuse sweating, heart palpitations, and upset stomach.

Specific Phobias:
This disorder is marked by an intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as dogs, snakes, or heights). The level of fear experienced is inappropriate to the situation, and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. This excessive fear can lead to avoidance of everyday, common situations, making life difficult for the person with the disorder.

Treatment of Anxiety Disorders:

Medication can be extremely useful in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and it is therefore often used in conjunction with psychotherapy. Both antidepressants and anxiolytics (antianxiety medications) are used to treat severe symptoms in order to increase the effectiveness of psychotherapy.

Behavior Therapy:
Behavior therapy is great for giving the individual a sense of having control over his or her life. The goal of behavior therapy is to modify and gain control over unwanted behavior. The patient learns to cope with difficult and anxiety provoking situations, often through controlled exposure to triggers.

Cognitive Therapy:
Cognitive therapy is often used along with behavior therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorder symptoms. The goal of cognitive therapy is to change unproductive or harmful thought patterns and allow the individual to be actively involved in his or her own recovery.

Relaxation Techniques:
Relaxation techniques help an anxious individual develop the ability to more effectively cope with the stresses that contribute to anxiety, and they help ease some of the physical anxiety disorder symptoms that occur during anxiety provoking situations. Some relaxation techniques include breathing re-training and visualization.

Articles on Anxiety Disorder Symptoms:

SAMHSA: Anxiety Disorder Symptoms and Types

What are anxiety disorders? What are the different types of anxiety disorders? Generalized Anxiety Disorder: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment ...

Mayo Clinic: Generalized Anxiety Disorder Symptoms

Generalized anxiety disorder often begins at an early age, and the signs and symptoms may develop more slowly than in other anxiety disorders. Many people with generalized anxiety disorder can't recall when they last felt relaxed or at ease.

All information contained in this web site is strictly for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for consultation with your medical doctor or psychiatrist.
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This Site Updated 04/09/11