Over the years, I have worked with many clients who suffer from anxiety. Most of us experience anxiety at some point, but the feelings eventually leave. However, some people have devastating anxiety that does not go away. For them anxiety can be overwhelming and interfere with functioning. The American Psychological Association (APA) article Understanding Anxiety Disorders and Effective Treatment discusses the following anxiety disorders.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) approximately 6.8 million people struggle with this disorder. Women are two times more likely to have this diagnosis. GAD may be under reported in men.
The APA article says that people with GAD have persistent and excessive fears. They often think that something bad is going to happen. Their fears are real and keep them from completing daily tasks. People with GAD are overly concerned about health, finance, relationship, interpersonal and work problems. They have physical symptoms of feeling tired, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dizziness, poor concentration, muscle tension, diarrhea, decreased or increased appetite, irritability, or decreased sex drive.
The ADAA indicates that around 6 million people have panic disorder. Women are twice as likely to have panic disorder. According to the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual -5 (DSM-5) Panic attacks are characterized by four or more of the following symptoms:
Palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea, diarrhea, feeling dizzy, feeling of unreality, feeling detached, fear of losing control, fear of dying, numbness or tingling, chills, or hot flushes
The presence of fewer than four of the above symptoms may be considered a limited-symptom panic attack.
ADAA reports that 19 million people have phobias. Phobias are intense fears. They generally focus on four areas of animals, situations, natural environment, or medical treatment.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
SAD impacts approximately 15 million people. SAD has features of anxiety, fear, and avoidance that interfere with daily routines such as work, school or activities. Symptoms of SAD include fear of being judged, worrying about embarrassing yourself, fear of talking with strangers, physical symptoms of blushing, sweating, trembling, shaky voice, avoiding doing things, avoiding being the center of attention, having intense fear about activities or events, analyzing your performance and identifying flaws after social situations, or expecting the worst consequences or outcomes.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
ADAA indicates that about 2.2 million people struggle with OCD. It is equally common in men and women. According to the APA article, people with obsessive-compulsive disorder feel the need to check things repeatedly, or they have certain thoughts or perform routines or rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals cause distress and get in the way of daily life.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
According to ADAA approximately 7.7 million people have PTSD. Someone who has experienced a severe traumatic event may develop PTSD. When a person is reminded of a traumatic event, their thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns can be affected. PTSD symptoms include the following: shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, trembling, or dizziness.
Many people experience anxiety; however, some people have anxiety that is overwhelming and causes problems with functioning. Anxiety disorders can be treated successfully. As a psychologist, I use cognitive therapy techniques to help people develop coping skills to manage their anxiety.
American Psychological Association (APA) – Understanding Anxiety Disorders and Effective Treatment
Diagnostic And Statistical Manual-5