Anxiety FAQs

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after one experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.  Examples of such traumatic events include natural disaster (such as flood, fire, or earthquake); rape; war; terrorist attack; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; assault, torture, automobile accident, frightening airplane flight, or getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. SYMPTOMS People can experience symptoms from a recent trauma or one that happened decades ago. PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. There are three categories of symptoms: reliving symptoms, avoidance, and arousal response. Reliving symptoms includes flashbacks of the event, nightmares, intrusive...

What are Illness Anxiety Disorder and Somatic Symptom Disorder?

Preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease, being obsessed with one’s body, constantly looking for signs of something wrong with one’s health and misinterpreting those signs, are the essential features of Illness Anxiety Disorder. People with this disorder can fear a brain tumor when they have a headache; skin cancer when they see skin discoloration, and a neurologic disorder when they feel a muscle spasm. They can become so preoccupied with the idea that they are or might become ill that their anxiety impairs their ability to function and enjoy life. Illness Anxiety Disorder can cause extreme distress and...

What Are Phobias?

Phobias are not unusual. There are over 200 of them, most with names that are difficult to pronounce. A common phobia is arachnophobia, a fear of spiders. A fear of heights is called acrophobia. Don’t confuse acrophobia with aerophobia, which is a fear of flying, or astraphobia, which is a fear of thunder and lighting. I’ve just touched the tip of the phobia iceberg, beginning with the letter A. On the Internet, you can find long lists of phobias that go all the way to Z. What is a phobia? It is essentially a situational anxiety. A person feels anxious...

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

Imagine being unable to leave the house without checking the locks at least eight times. Imagine having a rigid routine for getting dressed and having to start all over if you didn’t follow the routine exactly. Imagine having to shower three times every morning because three is a lucky number. These are just a few examples of the rituals that those suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder go through each day. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are persistent thoughts that produce a lot of anxiety. Compulsions are the ritual behaviors that people feel compelled to do...

What Is Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by unexpected and recurring panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that occurs for no apparent reason and triggers severe physical reactions. Panic attacks can be very frightening, and those experiencing them often fear they are having a heart attack or even dying. Most people have one or two panic attacks in a lifetime. But if you’ve had several panic attacks and fear having more, you may be suffering from panic disorder. __________________________________________________________ A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that occurs for no apparent...

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is best characterized by frequent or constant worry, anxiety, and tension, even when there is minimal or no cause. People who experience GAD find themselves unable to control their worry and often report being anxious most of their lives. The worry they experience is often related to events or activities like work, school, or family. With all of the excess anxiety, life becomes difficult to manage. Completing daily tasks, multitasking, following directions, finding one’s way, participating in an event, arriving on time, and being able to focus can all be struggles when one has Generalized Anxiety...

What Is Social Phobia?

People often feel nervous when they go on a first date or feel butterflies prior to giving a speech. They feel nervous because of a fear of messing up and embarrassing themselves. This is normal. However, in some cases, that nervousness, those butterflies and the fear of embarrassment, can be so terrifying that it completely takes over a person’s social life. Social Phobia is a fear of social situations, and anxiety in the presence of other people. Those who have social phobia believe that they are being scrutinized and judged. When out in public they feel like people are staring....

What’s the Difference Between an Anxiety Disorder and Anxiety?

Everyone has anxiety. It's part of the normal human experience. It’s natural to feel anxious when faced with a stressor. In fact, a certain amount of anxiety can be helpful.  Anxiety can protect us from danger.  It can cause us to study harder for a big test or prepare more thoroughly for an important presentation. The difference between anxiety and an anxiety disorder is that an anxiety disorder: Is much more severe Causes intense distress Lasts longer Results in avoidant behaviors Impacts your ability to function in certain areas of your life Anxiety disorders affect your entire being: psychologically, behaviorally,...

What Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that develops after one experiences or witnesses a traumatic event.  Examples of such traumatic events include natural disaster (such as flood, fire, or earthquake); rape; war; terrorist attack; physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; assault, torture, automobile accident, frightening airplane flight, or getting a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. SYMPTOMS People can experience symptoms from a recent trauma or one that happened decades ago. ______________________________________________________ PTSD is a normal reaction to an abnormal event. ______________________________________________________ There are three categories of symptoms: reliving symptoms, avoidance, and arousal response. Reliving symptoms includes flashbacks of the event,...

What Is Hypochondriasis?

Preoccupation with fears of having a serious disease, being obsessed with one’s body, and constantly looking for signs of something wrong with one’s health and misinterpreting those signs are the essential features of hypochondriasis.  People with hypochondriasis can fear a brain tumor when they have a headache, skin cancer when they see skin discoloration, and a neurologic disorder when they feel a muscle spasm. ____________________________________________________________ Hypochondriasis can cause extreme distress and result in frequent trips to the doctor. __________________________________________________ People who suffer with this form of anxiety are no strangers to MRIs, CAT scans, and other medical screening devices.  Yet...
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