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Anxiety Disorders

A certain amount of anxiety is normal. Blind dates, job interviews, public speaking – they can cause worry or fear. But in some people, anxiety is so great that it interferes with their everyday lives. There are many types of anxiety disorders. Some are described below.

Generalized anxiety disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worry a lot. They may worry about large issues, such as health, money or their job. They also worry about everyday occurrences, such as appointments, phone calls and the weather. People with GAD tend to “catastrophize” – they imagine the worst thing that could happen, and focus on it. GAD can cause fatigue, headaches, irritability and muscle tension.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is marked by obsessive thoughts and ritual behaviors. People with OCD have thoughts or impulses that occur repeatedly. Some are obsessed with germs and the idea that they might become ill. Others are obsessed with the exactness or evenness of things. The person with OCD cannot stop these thoughts. The obsessive thoughts can lead to compulsions. These are rituals that are meant to counteract the thoughts. Rituals can include frequent hand washing, putting things in a certain order or repeating activities a certain number of times (such as blinking, touching something or opening and closing a door).

Panic disorder

People with panic disorder have unexpected episodes of intense fear. The attacks can cause a pounding heart, sweatiness, dizziness, nausea, chest pain or a smothering sensation. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom or a fear of losing control. They can occur at any time, even during sleep.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often were exposed to a terrifying event. This could be a natural disaster, war, death of a loved one or car accident. Some people experience PTSD symptoms after a loved one goes through trauma. People with PTSD tend to have flashbacks to the trauma, as well as nightmares. They may feel “emotionally numb,” lose interest in things they used to enjoy, and become easily startled and irritable.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder occurs when people are excessively self-consciousness in social situations. People with social anxiety disorder are worried about being judged by others. They have an extreme fear of being embarrassed.

Read about treatment for anxiety and related conditions

Find a health professional who specializes in anxiety disorders

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