Anxiety Disorder Diseases
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is the mildest form of the anxiety disorders. People with generalized anxiety disorder suffer from chronic unease and unrealistic anxiety, especially around other people, and tend to startle easily. This disorder generally begins in childhood or adolescence and is more common in women than in men. It also usually runs in families. Difficulty sleeping and chronic fatigue, headaches, occasional panic attacks, trembling or twitching, lightheadedness, depression, muscle aches, restlessness, sweating, abdominal upset, dizziness, problems concentrating, edginess, and irritability are all symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. GAD is diagnosed when someone spends at least 6 months worrying excessively about a number of everyday problems.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs when a person suffers from one or more recurring and unrealistic anxieties (obsessions) and uses certain ritualistic behaviors (compulsions) to try to dispel those anxieties. OCD affects 1 in 50 people and is equally common in men and women. This disorder can begin at any age but usually begins in the teens or in early adulthood. Often OCD is accompanied by depression, other anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and alcohol and drug abuse.
People with OCD know that their fears and subsequent behavior make no sense, but they do it anyway because they can't stop themselves and because they hope to find some relief through their acts. OCD sufferers fear uncertainty and often seek reassurance from others about their behavior. Common compulsions include excessive cleaning, repeatedly checking things to make sure that they are safe and secure, repetition, excessive slowness, and hoarding.
- Phobias: Phobias are an irrational and involuntary fear of certain things or situations. More than 1 in 10 people suffer from some sort of phobia, they tend to run in families and usually begin in adolescence or adulthood, and women are more prone to suffer from phobias than men. In the case of a phobia, normal methods for coping with fear don't work, and the person suffering from the phobia can become consumed by an overwhelming need to avoid whatever causes him or her such intense fear.
There are three categories for phobias, the specific phobia (which is an unreasonable fear of a certain object such as spiders, flying, heights, etc.), social phobia (fear of being painfully embarrassed in a social setting), and agoraphobia (fear of being in any situation that might provoke a panic attack, or from which escape might be difficult if one occurred).
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD occurs when a person who has witnessed or has been involved in a traumatic event (war, rape, a natural event, etc.) cannot recover from the event and pursue a normal life. This disorder can occur at any age and is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or anxiety. PTSD usually begins within three months of the trauma (although occasionally it doesn't show up until years after the event), and the length of illness may vary. Those suffering from PTSD may relive the traumatic event, experience emotional numbness, and be unable to concentrate on routine tasks. Symptoms can be divided into three categories: nightmares and flashbacks of the traumatic event, withdrawal from family and friends, and sudden anger. The disorder is diagnosed if symptoms last more than a month. Often PTSD will disappear without treatment, but in severe cases medical help should be sought.
- Panic Attacks: Panic attacks occur when, for no apparent reason, the body prepares itself to deal with a nonexistent emergency situation. Extra adrenaline is produced and the heart rate and breathing become more rapid. These attacks average only a couple of minutes with some lasting for up to 10 minutes and the rare attack lasting for more than an hour. Panic attacks affect up to 3-6 million Americans, are twice as common in women as in men, and can begin at any age but usually begin as a young adult.
According to the American Psychological Association, the person suffering the panic attack should experience at least four of the following symptoms: palpitations, pounding heart or rapid heart rate, sweating, tremor, sensations of smothering or shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness, derealization, depersonalization, fear of losing control or of going crazy or of dying, parasthesia, and hot flashes. To be suffering from "defined" panic attacks, your attacks must be unexpected and must recur every two weeks, or if just a single attack, must be followed by at least a month of unrealistic anxiety and stress about the attack.
Panic attacks can occur with or without agoraphobia (the fear of being out in public and not being able to escape when an attack occurs). Panic attack sufferers often try to avoid future attacks by avoiding places or things that trigger attacks, by using distractions to cope with the attacks, or by turning to drugs and alcohol to hide from the problem.