Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety is a normal anticipatory reaction characterized by feelings of apprehension, nervousness, and uneasiness regarding an event or experience. An anxiety disorder may be present if the fear and anxiety are out of proportion compared to the actual danger of the situation, and it hinders the ability to function normally. Below are five common types of anxiety disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Characterized by excessive and persistent worry concerning many different things – often ordinary everyday things – that interferes with daily activities and functioning. This anxiety must occur most days, for a period of 6 months or more.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
Excessive fear and anxiety about separation from those one is attached to. The anxiety is beyond what is age appropriate, causes problems functioning, and persists for at least 4 weeks in children, or 6 months in adults.
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Characterized by an intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in performance situations and ordinary social settings. Those afflicted may avoid things like eating or drinking in public, meeting new people, asserting themselves, or public speaking. This affects their ability to participate in life fully.
- Specific Phobias
Excessive and persistent fear of a specific object, situation, or activity that is generally not harmful. Patients know their fear is excessive and illogical, but can not simply overcome it. Common examples are fear of flying, fear of spiders, fear of needles – and there are many others.
- Panic Disorders
Characterized by sudden intense fear that brings on panic attacks. Panic attacks are a combination of overwhelming physical and psychological distress. Panic attacks are such an experience that one can come preoccupied with the fear of having another one. Having recurrent panic attacks, or a persistent fear of having a panic attack, for more than one month qualifies a panic disorder.
Most suffering from anxiety disorders do not seek treatment. This is unfortunate because anxiety disorders can often be easily treated and managed with prescription medications and therapy or counseling services.
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