Anxiety Disorders

Everyone feels anxious and under stress from time to time. Situations such as meeting tight deadlines, important social obligations or driving in heavy traffic, often bring about anxious feelings. Such mild anxiety may help make you alert and focused on facing threatening or challenging circumstances. On the other hand, anxiety disorders are an exaggerated response to stressors and are characterized by creating anxious feelings where they are not warranted. The frequency and intensity of anxiety is often debilitating. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem affecting about 15% or 30 million Americans. Fortunately anxiety disorders respond well to proper treatment. According to The National Institute of Mental Health research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy is highly effective in treating anxiety disorders as well as associated depression.


Click on a disorder to learn more.


People with generalized anxiety have recurring fears or worries such as about health, the future, finances or a persistent sense that something bad will happen. The fears and worries can create tension, stress, irritability, inability to concentrate and sometimes difficulty sleeping.

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Panic involves sudden intense anxiety which may include shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling, upset stomach, rapid heartbeat, feelings of unreality, terror and dread. People are often afraid they might be having a heart attack or be going crazy. It often seems to come out of the blue unprovoked by any identifiable stressor which causes fear and dread of another attack.

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Most people fear having another panic attack and restrict their activities to avoid the possibility of another one. Agoraphobia is this cycle of anticipatory fear of panic and subsequent avoidance of situations where escape seems difficult, or help and safety are perceived to be unavailable such as being away from home or being alone.

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Social anxiety involves a fear of embarrassment or humiliation in social interactions, public places or performance situations. This can create anxiety, discomfort and avoidance of such situations.

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Paruresis is a type of social phobia involving a fear of urinating in public restrooms which causes avoidant behavior, anticipatory anxiety and distress.

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Intense fear and avoidance of a particular object or situation such as dogs, spiders, elevators, flying, medical or dental visits, etc.

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OCD is characterized by persistent, uncontrollable unwanted feelings or thoughts (Obsessions) and routines and rituals (Compulsions) to try to prevent, neutralize or eliminate these unwanted feelings or thoughts. Common compulsions include washing hands and cleaning excessively due to contamination fears or repeatedly checking something. However, OCD can manifest in a variety of unusual obsessions and compulsions.

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PTSD comes from a severe physical or emotionally traumatic event such as a serious accident, natural disaster or crime. Thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns become affected by reminders of the event.

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BDD is an intense preoccupation with a perceived flaw in physical appearance which can lead to attempts to change it (plastic surgery) or cover it up, social avoidance, or depression and hopelessness.

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Trichotillomania involves compulsively pulling out hair, typically on the scalp, eye brow or eye lashes. Skin picking and nail biting are similar impulse control conditions. These often cause shame, embarrassment and emotional distress.

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Though not an anxiety disorder, atypical depression can have associated anxiety symptoms. Also, secondary depression: hopelessness, worthlessness, fatigue, lack of enjoyment in life can result from dealing with ongoing anxiety issues.

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