How to Recognize Anxiety Disorders and Phobias

Panic Disorder
Panic disorder includes repeated episodes of intense fear that strike often and without warning. Physical symptoms include:
 
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal distress
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Fear of dying.
 
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by repeated, unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that seem impossible to stop or control.
 
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) consists of persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, such as:
 
  • Rape or other criminal assault
  • War
  • Child abuse
  • Natural or human-caused disasters
  • Crashes.
 
Nightmares; flashbacks; numbing of emotions; depression; and feeling angry, irritable, or distracted are common. It is also common for people with PTSD to be easily startled. Family members of victims can also develop this disorder.
 
Phobias
The three types of phobias are social phobia, specific phobias and agoraphobia. People with social phobia have an overwhelming and disabling fear of scrutiny, embarrassment, or humiliation in social situations, which leads to avoidance of many potentially pleasurable and meaningful activities. People with a specific phobia experience extreme, disabling, and irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. The fear leads to avoidance of objects or situations, and can cause people to limit their lives unnecessarily. Agoraphobia involves intense fear and avoidance of any place or situation where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of developing sudden panic-like symptoms. Agoraphobia rarely occurs in the absence of panic disorder.
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