Anxiety disorders include a set of related mental conditions that include: generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social phobia, and simple phobias. Anxiety disorders are treated by a combination of psychiatric medications and psychotherapy.
Anxiety, worry, and stress are all a part of most people’s life today. But simply experiencing anxiety or stress in and of itself does not mean you need to get professional help or you have an anxiety disorder. In fact, anxiety is a necessary warning signal of a dangerous or difficult situation. Without anxiety, we would have no way of anticipating difficulties ahead and preparing for them.
Anxiety becomes a disorder when the symptoms become chronic and interfere with our daily lives and our ability to function. People suffering from chronic, generalized anxiety often report the following symptoms:
- Muscle tension
- Physical weakness
- Poor memory
- Sweaty hands
- Fear or confusion
- Inability to relax
- Constant worry
- Shortness of breath
- Upset stomach
- Poor concentration
These symptoms are severe and upsetting enough to make individuals feel extremely uncomfortable, out of control and helpless.
Anxiety disorders fall into a set of separate diagnoses, depending upon the symptoms and severity of the anxiety the person experiences. The anxiety disorders discussed in this series on anxiety are:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms (also known as social anxiety disorder)
- Specific phobias (also known as simple phobias)