Different Types of Anxiety Disorders
Hi, and welcome to this video about anxiety disorders!
Anxiety can take on many forms. It can range from being frightening for the patient and their loved ones to being debilitating. It has physical manifestations as well as emotional and psychological. Let’s look at some anxiety disorders and their symptoms and treatment.
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety with a sudden onset of overwhelming fear when there is no imminent danger. Panic disorder carries physical symptoms such as: rapid heart rate, chest/stomach pain, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, sweating, feeling hot or cold, or having tingly or numb hands. You can imagine how frightening the symptoms alone can be. It has been described as an overwhelming feeling of losing control. It can strike the patient unaware, at any given time. The symptoms a patient experiences are often called a panic attack. Panic Disorder is more common in women, and typically starts in younger adults. Treatment consists of psychotherapy (such as talk therapy), behavior modification, and antidepressants. The most popular types of antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Examples of SSRIs include: Fluoxetine, Citalopram, Sertraline, Paroxetine, and Escitalopram.
Specific Phobia is a strong, irrational reaction of fear to an object, place, or situation, which can disrupt activities of daily living. Specific phobias commonly focus on animals, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators. Although people with phobias realize that their fear is irrational, even thinking about it can often cause extreme anxiety. Specific phobia can occur in childhood, adolescence, or young adulthood. It can strain social relationships and affect self-esteem. Treating Specific Phobia is typically done with psychotherapy, talk therapy, and controlled exposure to the feared object or situation in the hopes of becoming desensitized to it. Antidepressant medications can be used in extreme cases.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is very common with more than 6 million cases in the U.S. each year. GAD is a persistent and excessive worry over a variety of things, including: money, health, family, work, or other issues. It is common for people with GAD to anticipate disaster, which can make it difficult to get through the day. They don’t know how to stop the worry cycle and will often try to control situations to aid in decreasing their anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help the patient with GAD by having the affected person express and discuss their feelings and learn about anxiety and its symptoms to aid in decreasing the escalation. It specifically looks at the physical symptoms of worry and the behaviors the patient exhibits due to the worry in the hopes of giving them tools to understand their behavior and develop coping strategies for it. Acceptance and mindfulness therapies look at behaviors and coping techniques such as yoga, meditation, and exercise. SSRIs are again beneficial in the treatment of this disorder. Because depression often accompanies GAD, the patient would benefit from treatment modalities for depression as well.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is when an individual has anxiety in separating from a loved one, parent, or caregiver. This is often seen in children, but it also occurs in adults. Separation anxiety disorder is diagnosed when symptoms are excessive for the developmental age and cause significant distress in daily functioning. Symptoms may include: recurrent and excessive distress about anticipating or being away from home or loved ones; constant, excessive worry about losing a parent or other loved one to an illness or a disaster; constant worry that something bad will happen, such as being lost or kidnapped, that would cause separation from parents or other loved ones; refusing to be away from home because of fear of separation; not wanting to be home alone and without a parent or other loved one in the house; reluctance or refusing to sleep away from home without a parent or other loved one nearby; repeated nightmares about separation; frequent complaints of headaches, stomachaches or other symptoms when separation from a parent or other loved one is anticipated. Separation anxiety disorder may be associated with panic disorder and panic attacks ― repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes. Family environment and genetics may play a role and stress has been known to be a factor. Treatment can range from psychotherapy to medication, as sometimes separation anxiety can lead to other anxiety disorders and depression.
Selective Mutism is a rare, complex childhood anxiety disorder where the child is unable to speak or interact in social settings, such as school, but is able to interact in settings where they feel comfortable. This goes way beyond being shy. The child is not choosing to do this; they cannot speak due to the anxiety. To be properly diagnosed, the symptoms must last longer than a month. A therapist will rule out physical causes such as speech and language pathologies, and hearing loss, and work with the child to model behaviors. They might have the child watch videos of them speaking with others, or have them slowly introduced to the scenarios that are causing the mutism.
Social Anxiety Disorder also known as social phobia has the defining characteristic of intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation. These individuals suffer physical symptoms such as rapid heart rate, breathing, sweating, at the thought of a social situation, and will use avoidance as a coping mechanism. This disorder affects 15 million Americans and is the second most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder. The extreme symptoms of social anxiety disorder can wreak havoc on activities of daily living, as the person may avoid jobs, schools, or social settings necessary to function in the world. There are treatments available, but only about 5% of people with the disorder seek treatment right away, while most suffer for years before seeking treatment. Treatments such as talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and if necessary antidepressant medications help patients live with this disorder.
Agoraphobia is a fear of social situations, similar to the previous Social Anxiety Disorder, except agoraphobia is the panic attack that eventually can lead to the person not wanting to leave their home for fear they will have a panic attack when they do. Typical agoraphobia symptoms include fears of: leaving home alone; crowds or waiting in line; enclosed spaces, such as movie theaters, elevators or small stores; open spaces, such as parking lots, bridges or malls; and using public transportation, such as a bus, plane or train. The panic attack associated with agoraphobia includes the following symptoms: rapid heart rate; trouble breathing or a feeling of choking; chest pain or pressure; lightheadedness or dizziness; feeling shaky, numb or tingling; excessive sweating; sudden flushing or chills; upset stomach or diarrhea; feeling a loss of control; and fear of dying. Agoraphobia usually starts in late teen or early adult years before age thirty-five, and is more common in women. Risk factors include another anxiety disorder, depression, and drug or alcohol abuse. Psychotherapy and antidepressants are the treatments for this disorder.
To sum everything up: Anxiety disorders can range from mild to severe, can be debilitating, and affect the person’s activities of daily living. Thankfully, there are many treatments available ranging from therapy to medications that are beneficial to patients with anxiety disorders.
Thanks for watching and happy studying!
- “Panic Disorder.” Medlineplus.gov
- “NIMH» Mental Health Medications.” Nih.gov
- “Specific Phobias | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.”
- “Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)” Adaa.org
- “Separation Anxiety Disorder – Symptoms and Causes.” Mayo Clinic.
- “Selective Mutism: Overview.” Asha.org
- “Social Anxiety Disorder | Anxiety and Depression Association of America, ADAA.” Adaa.org
- “Agoraphobia – Diagnosis and Treatment – Mayo Clinic.” Mayoclinic.org