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Anxiety, phobias, social anxiety, stress, and panic disorders

Anxiety is a normal human experience. Most people feel anxious or nervous when they are faced with problems at home, work, or before taking a test or making an important decision. Anxiety disorders, however, cause such distress when there is no apparent threat. For those who suffer with anxiety disorders, worry and fear can be overwhelming.

Types of Anxiety Disorders

Panic disorder:

People who experience panic disorder have feelings of terror that can strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. Symptoms of panic included sweating, heart palpitations, and feeling of choking, all of which may cause a person to believe that they are having a heart attack.

Obsessive compulsive disorder:

People who experience obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD are plagued by constant thoughts of fears that caused them to perform certain rituals or routines. The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions and the rituals are called compulsions. An example is a person who has an unreasonable fear of germs and has a need to repeatedly wash their hands.

Post traumatic stress disorder:

PTSD is a condition that can develop following a traumatic or terrifying event. People with PTSD often have lasting and frightening thoughts and memories of the event and tend to be emotionally blunted.

Social anxiety disorder:

Social anxiety involves overwhelming worry and self-consciousness in everyday social situations. The anxiety can derive from a fear of being judged by others, or a fear of behaving in an inappropriate or embarrassing way while in a crowd.

Social phobias:

A phobia is an intense fear of an object or situation. The level of fear is inappropriate to the situation and may cause a person to avoid common everyday activities that are important for their job or for their families well being.

Generalized anxiety disorder:

Generalized anxiety is one of the most prevalent behavioral health issues, and includes excessive, unrealistic worry and tension when there is little or nothing to provoke this anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety vary based upon the type of anxiety disorder, but the general symptoms including the following:

Feeling of panic, fear, or uneasiness
Obsessive thoughts
Flashback or traumatic events
Ritualistic behaviors such as repeated hand washing
Shortness of breath
Heart Palpitations
An inability to be still or calm
Dry mouth
Numbness or tingling in the hands of feet
Muscle tension
Restless sleep

Causes of anxiety disorders:

The exact causes of anxiety disorders are not understood, but like other mental illness they come, not so much as a result of personal weakness or character, but by a combination of factors including changes in the brain and environmental stressors.

Like other illnesses, such as diabetes or hypothyroidism, anxiety disorders may be caused by chemical imbalances in the body. Severe, long-lasting stress can also change the balance of chemicals in the brain that control mood and vigilance. Anxiety disorders run in families, which suggest that they may be inherited from one or both parents or family members from previous generations. Certain environmental factors such as serious accidents may trigger an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders effect about 20 million Americans.

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