All about Anxiety Disorders

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Contrary to popular article press, there are multiple forms for Anxiety Disorder.   The common thread that runs through all anxiety disorders, however, is the omnipresent flaw in the psycho-emotional reaction to an anxiety-provoking stimulus.

 The inappropriate reaction to the stimulus is what requires attention, along with symptomatic relief.   Their diagnosis and treatment also varies with the disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – or GAD – is when all stress-triggered anxiety stimuli produce an excessive and inappropriate reaction – typically terror and associated physical symptoms, with the resulting inability of the patient to engage in or carry out normal daily activities.  This anxiety disorder occurs more frequently in women and is midscale in terms of complexity of treatment.

The Anxiety Disorder created by strong morbidity associated with illness is another form of anxiety disorder.  While it doesn’t have its own handle, it is experienced by seniors, poor-health individuals, and hypochondriacs as well.  Survival of the illness and its release of a depressed spirit are often enough treatment, if coupled with tranquilizers and antidepressants.

Panic Disorders occur in otherwise healthy individuals with great frequency and the panic attacks occur almost without warning.  

Unlike GAD where the threat or anxiety-promoting stimuli is well understood and described – albeit illogical or trivial in reality – Panic Disorder sufferers often cannot define what it was that caused their most recent panic attack.  Strong dosages of tranquilizers and antidepressants and confinement are often prescribed.  Advanced CBT is often utilized to focus on the source of the trauma.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is manifest in the uncontrollable need to perform repetitive functions that have the appearance of preventing illness, i.e. repetitive washing of the hands, cleaning of their home, etc. or rechecking locked doors or security systems.  It also can involve the morbid fear of their insignificant actions harming others. 

Those are examples of the Obsessive track; examples of the Compulsive track are repetitive must-do actions such as addictive behavior and the compulsion of must-not-do – such as eating.  OCD is high on the treatment complexity scale and often takes years to impact.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psycho-emotional disorder brought on by experiencing or witnessing a genuine life-threat or horrible act leading to extreme anxiety attack if/when the expectation of exposure to the same circumstances.  Typical stimuli are military combat, rape, etc.  PTSD is very difficult to treat but it can be positively impacted by CBT in concert with medication.

Social Phobia is an anxiety disorder typically associated with fear of performance failure or appearance failure in public or close interpersonal contact.   Previously referred to as stage-fright and written off as nothing more than being very shy, it is now recognized as a full-fledged anxiety disorder justifying serious research and study.

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