Woman suffering from axietyAnxiety Disorders

There are many types of Anxiety Disorders, all can be successfully treated with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. Anxiety Disorders are characterized by symptoms that are both physical (heart racing, upset stomach, hot, etc) and psychological (racing thoughts, worry, etc) and avoidance behavior.

Anxiety Checklist

  • Anxiety and/or worry about a number of events, such as work, financial matters, school performance, etc.
  • Difficulty in controlling the worry
  • The worry is associated with three or more of the following: restlessness, feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, mind going blank, irritability, muscle tension, restless sleep or difficulty falling or staying asleep

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV, if you answered Yes to the above, you may be suffering from generalized anxiety. There are also more specific forms of anxiety, such as social phobia and panic, which are listed below.

Agoraphobia is a generalized anxiety disorder.Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by “free floating” anxiety. Free floating anxiety is anxiety not associated with a particular object, event or situation. (You feel anxious and don’t know why). It can range from mild nervousness to a continuous feeling of dread. You may also experience physical symptoms such as, muscle tension, upset stomach or shaky feelings.

Acute Stress Disorder develops within one month after a severe traumatic event or experience.

If you are experiencing Agoraphobia, you have noticed marked anxiety or distress when leaving your home or being in a public place. You can develop Agoraphobia, with or without panic attacks. A panic attack is a specific period of time when you feel intense apprehension, fear, or terror that develops abruptly and usually peaks within ten minutes.

Woman suffering from a panic disorderPanic Disorder requires that the attack involve at least four of the following: palpitations or accelerated heart rate, sweating, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, derealization, paresthesia (tingling or numbness of the skin). These “attacks” are usually accompanied by a sense of door or an urge to escape. With or without panic attacks, people with Agoraphobia will increasingly restrict the places they are willing to go.

Man obsessing with negative thoughts and ideas.Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is also in the anxiety disorder category. It is characterized by uncontrollable intrusive thoughts (obsessions), that can only be relieved through a specific behavior (compulsion). These symptoms frequently cause considerable distress and interference with daily social or work activities.

Social Phobia is a persistent fear of social situations. A person with a social phobia may feel that their behavior will be scrutinized by others, leading to embarrassment and an anxiety response such as physical symptoms of upset stomach, headache, avoidance of the social situation and sometimes panic attacks.

Specific Phobia is an irrational fear of a specific place, thing, or situation. Typical specific phobias are: fear of blood, fear of crowds, fear of dogs, fear of enclosed places, fear of heights, fear of mice, and fear of snakes. Multiple specific phobias are common.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, avoid the use of illegal drugs, alcohol and caffeine. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy is very effective in reteaching your body how to react to this distress. A useful tool is systematic desensitization, in which you learn relaxation skills and then slowly confront the anxiety provoking event or thing.