Remember the Sesame Street song that taught us about numbers? “Eight, eight, eight, eight, let’s sing a song about eight. How many is eight?”
Well….eight is the number of anxiety disorders. And here is what they are and how to recognize them.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves persistent and excessive worry that interferes with daily activities, accompanied by physical symptoms, such as restlessness, feeling on edge or easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension or problems sleeping. Generalized anxiety disorder is excessive worry around a number of everyday problems for more than six months.
- Social Anxiety Disorder (previously called Social Phobia). Much more serious than shyness, Social Anxiety Disorder involves intense fear of being embarrassed or evaluated negatively by others. As a result, people avoid social situations. This is more than shyness. It can have a big impact on work or school performance and relationships.
- Specific Phobias. A phobia is an intense fear around a specific thing like an object, animal, or situation. Most of us are scared of something, but these feelings don’t disrupt our lives. A specific phobia is an excessive and persistent fear of a specific object, situation or activity that is generally not harmful. Examples are fear of flying or fear of spiders.
- Panic Disorder. A panic attack is a feeling of sudden and intense fear that lasts for a short period of time. It causes a lot of physical feelings like a racing heart, shortness of breath, or nausea. Panic attacks can be a normal reaction to a stressful situation, or a part of other anxiety disorders. With panic disorder, panic attacks seem to happen for no reason. People who experience panic disorder fear more panic attacks and may worry that something bad will happen as a result of the panic attack. Some people change their routine to avoid triggering more panic attacks.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD can happen after a person experiences a distressing and traumatic event (e.g. war, assault, accident, disaster). PTSD is most notably characterized by recurring and intrusive flashbacks of the traumatic incident and a sense of being ‘on edge,’ among other symptoms.
- Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is fear of being in a situation where a person can’t escape or find help if they experience a panic attack or other feelings of anxiety. The fear is out of proportion to the actual situation and lasts generally six months or more and causes problems in daily functioning.A person with agoraphobia may avoid public places or even avoid leaving their homes.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder. A person with Separation Anxiety Disorder is excessively fearful or anxious about separation from those with whom he or she is attached. The feeling is beyond what is appropriate for the person’s age, persists at least four weeks in children and six months in adults and causes problems with daily functioning.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). A person with OCD has unwanted thoughts, images, or urges that cause anxiety (obsessions) or repeated actions meant to reduce that anxiety (compulsions). Obsessions or compulsions usually take a lot of time and cause a lot of distress. Although the person may acknowledge these thoughts as silly, the person often finds him or herself trying to relieve their anxiety by carrying out certain behaviours or rituals.
- Anxiety disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2018 from: http://dsm.psychiatryonline.org.
- Anxiety disorders. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved September 29, 2018 from: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders/Overview.
- Bandelow B, et al. (2015). Efficacy of treatments for anxiety disorders: A meta-analysis. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. 30:183.
- Help with anxiety disorders. American Psychiatric Association. Retrieved September 29, 2018 from: https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/anxiety-disorders/what-are-anxiety-disorders.
- Reinhold JA, et al. (2015). Pharmacological treatment for generalized anxiety disorder in adults: An update. Expert Opinion in Pharmacotherapy. 16:1669.
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