Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety disorders are highly treatable with psychosocial therapies, medication, or both. However, many anxiety disorders can be treated with behavioral therapy alone adding medication only when necessary. Anxiety disorders include: 


  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) GAD is characterized by excessive, unrealistic worry that lasts six months or more; in adults, the anxiety may focus on issues such as health, money, or career. In addition to chronic worry, GAD symptoms include trembling, muscular aches, insomnia, abdominal upsets, dizziness, and irritability.  
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) In OCD, individuals are plagued by persistent, recurring thoughts (obsessions) that reflect exaggerated anxiety or fears; typical obsessions include worry about being contaminated or fears of behaving improperly or acting violently. The obsessions may lead an individual to perform a ritual or routine (compulsions)-such as washing hands, repeating phrases, or hoarding-to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsession.
  • Panic Disorder People with panic disorder suffer severe attacks of panic-which may make them feel like they are having a heart attack or are going crazy-for no apparent reason. Symptoms include heart palpitations, chest pain or discomfort, sweating, trembling, tingling sensations, feeling of choking, fear of dying, fear of losing control, and feelings of unreality. Panic disorder often occurs with agoraphobia, in which people are afraid of having a panic attack in a place from which escape would be difficult, so they avoid these places.


  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia) Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by extreme anxiety about being judged by others or behaving in a way that might cause embarrassment or ridicule. This intense anxiety may lead to avoidance behavior. Physical symptoms associated with this disorder include heart palpitations, faintness, blushing and profuse sweating. 
  • Specific phobias People with specific phobias suffer from an intense fear reaction to a specific object or situation (such as spiders, dogs, or heights); the level of fear is usually inappropriate to the situation, and is recognized by the sufferer as being irrational. This inordinate fear can lead to the avoidance of common, everyday situations.
  • Separation Anxiety / School Refusal Separation Anxiety is indicated by excessive distress on routine separations from parents or from home. Behaviors such as crying, clinging and panic occur upon separation. Often there is reluctance or refusal to go to school or activities because of fear of separation, difficulty sleeping alone, nightmares and/or fear about harm to loved ones. Symptoms must be present for four weeks or more.

Source:  Anxiety Disorders Association of America  Obsessive Compulsive Foundation