Anxiety and Panic Disorders: Symptoms and Treatments
An anxiety disorder is a wide-ranging term that is used to sum up various disorders pertaining to mental illness which is based on pathological anxiety and fear. Here is a list of the most common anxiety disorders;
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder also commonly referred as OCD is when an individual faces behaviors and unwanted thoughts that he/she cannot control or stop. OCD is basically being obsessed with something, for example constantly washing your hands, thinking that they are still dirty or constant worry that you might hurt someone.
- Feelings that you've wounded somebody in a traffic accident
- Skin lesions because of picking your skin
- Impulses to yell obscenities in unsuitable situations
- Dermatitis because of recurrent hand washing
- Hair loss or bald spots because of hair pulling
- If you have any family member especially parents, who have suffered from this disorder, then you are at higher risk of developing this disorder.
- The risk of this disorder increases, if you act too strongly to stressful situations.
This anxiety disorder is complex and treatment may not even cure the disorder. There are two main treatments for this order; psychotherapy and medications. Psychotherapy involves exposing the individual to the object he/she fears and teaching healthy ways to cope with it. Medications such as Sertraline are prescribed but should only be consumed if the doctor advises it.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by constant fear of being humiliated in front of people. This type of disorder is also known as Social phobia. People who suffer from this anxiety disorder are usually extremely shy and try to avoid social contact. Stage Fright is the most common type of Social Anxiety Disorder.
- Difficulty talking
- Avoiding situations where you might be the center of attention
- Muscle tension
- Fast heartbeat
- Trembling or shaking
- Shaky voice
- Intense fear of interacting with strangers
- Females are more at risk of suffering from this anxiety disorder
- The risk of developing Social phobia increases if a family member suffers from same disorder
- Giving a speech or working in a new environment can lead to this disorder
Treatment for social phobia involves psychotherapy and giving medications. Medications are specially prescribed by the doctors. The therapy involves motivating the person and changing negative thoughts about themselves.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder faced by people who have experienced a traumatic or life threatening situations.
- Hopelessness about the future
- Memory problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
- Being easily startled
- Irritability or anger
- Females suffer from this more often as compared to men
- Being abused as a child leas to post traumatic stress disorder
- Experiencing trauma increases the risk of developing this disorder
- The risk of developing this disorder increases if one of your close relative has severe mental problems
The treatment for this disorder involves psychotherapy and prescribing medicine. The therapy involves teaching the individual face things that he/she fears.
A phobia is an unrealistic fear of a certain object, activity or situation even though that situation may not be dangerous in reality. People usually have height, animal and flying phobias. In extreme cases of phobia, people tend to completely avoid objects that they fear which strengthens the phobia.
- Inability to function normally
- Tantrums, clinging or crying
- Trying to avoid what you fear at any cost
- Feeling powerless to control your fears
- People who are younger than 25 are more at risk of suffering from this disorder
- Women and girls are more at risk of developing specific phobias
- Facing a traumatic situation can also trigger this disorder
People suffering from this disorder are usually prescribed antidepressants and beta blockers. They can also undergo behavior therapy which involves changing the reaction to the objects or situation that you fear.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by constant feeling that something bad is about to happen. People suffering from this anxiety disorder usually feel anxious all the time even when they don’t know why.
- Sweating, nausea or diarrhea
- Muscle tension
- Trouble sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Females are more at risk of developing this anxiety disorder
- Stressful situations can trigger anxiety
- This disorder may be inherited from a family member
- A traumatic event in the childhood can trigger this disorder
People who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder are usually given antidepressants. They can also undergo psychotherapy which involves changing behavior and talking about stressful events.
Panic Disorder (Anxiety Attacks)
Panic Disorder comprises of repeated panic attacks and fear of a panic attack. This anxiety disorder may be accompanied by agoraphobia, which is the fear of being in a place where there is no help in case a panic attack strikes. People with this disorder often avoid crowded places like airports and shopping malls.
- Rapid heart rate
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Death of a loved one can cause a panic attack
- Physical abuse during childhood can cause panic disorder
- An individual is more at risk of developing panic disorder if there is a family history of the disorder
People suffering from panic disorder are prescribed different medicines. They also undergo psychotherapy which involves learning how to cope with panic attacks and things you fear.