Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that covers several different forms of a type of common psychiatric disorder characterized by excessive rumination, worrying, uneasiness, apprehension and fear about future uncertainties either based on real or imagined events, which may affect both physical and psychological health. There are numerous psychiatric and medical syndromes which may mimic the symptoms of an anxiety disorder such as hyperthyroidism which may be misdiagnosed as generalized anxiety disorder.
Individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may be classified in one of two categories; based on whether they experience continuous or episodic symptoms. The term anxiety covers four aspects of experiences an individual may have: mental apprehension, physical tension, physical symptoms and dissociative anxiety.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common, chronic disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder experience non-specific persistent fear and worry, and become overly concerned with everyday matters. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to affect older adults.
The single largest category of anxiety disorders is that of phobic disorders, which includes all cases in which fear and anxiety is triggered by a specific stimulus or situation. Sufferers typically anticipate terrifying consequences from encountering the object of their fear. Sufferers understand that their fear is not proportional to the actual potential danger but still are overwhelmed by the fear.
- Panic Disorder
With panic disorder, a person suffers from brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and/or difficulty breathing. These panic attacks, defined by the APA as fear or discomfort that abruptly arises and peaks in less than ten minutes, can last for several hours. Attacks can be triggered by stress, fear, or even exercise; the specific cause is not always apparent. In some cases, a heightened awareness (hypervigilance) of body functioning occurs during panic attacks, wherein any perceived physiological change is interpreted as a possible life-threatening illness.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is a type of anxiety disorder primarily characterized by repetitive obsessions (distressing, persistent, and intrusive thoughts or images) and compulsions (urges to perform specific acts or rituals). Often the process is entirely illogical. In a slight minority of cases, sufferers of OCD may only experience obsessions, with no overt compulsions; a much smaller number of sufferers experience only compulsions.
- Post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder which results from a traumatic experience, such as combat, natural disaster, rape, hostage situations, child abuse, bullying or even a serious accident. It can also result from long term (chronic) exposure to a severe stressor. Common symptoms include hypervigilance, flashbacks, avoidant behaviors, anxiety, anger and depression.
- Situational anxiety
Situational anxiety is caused by new situations or changing events. It can also be caused by various events that make that particular individual uncomfortable. Its occurrence is very common. Often, an individual will experience panic attacks or extreme anxiety in specific situations. A situation that causes one individual to experience anxiety may not affect another individual, at all. For example, some people become uneasy in crowds or tight spaces, so standing in a tightly packed line, say at the bank or a store register, may cause them to experience extreme anxiety, possibly a panic attack. Others, however, may experience anxiety when major changes in life occur, such as entering college, getting married, having children, etc.
- Childhood anxiety Disorders
Children as well as adults experience feelings of anxiety, worry, and fear when facing different situations, especially those involving new experiences. However, if anxiety is no longer temporary and begins to interfere with the child's normal functioning or do harm to their learning, the problem may be diagnosed as more than just the ordinary anxiety typical in children.
Many of the same anxiety disorders that affect adults affect children as well. A common anxiety disorder in children is school phobia, which in some cases can be a type of separation anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety has no obvious cause. In other instances, the child may experience bullying from classmates, or even a teacher. They could also be stressed from the workload they are given. School phobia may also be a form of social phobia, also known as social anxiety.Like adults, children may suffer too from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, panic disorder
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