Everyone feels a little nervous sometimes. However, people with anxiety disorders feel an abnormal amount from common things. In all types of anxiety disorders, (not surprisingly) anxiety is the main symptom. There are four major types of anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety/panic disorders, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder.
General Anxiety/Panic Disorders
A person with a general anxiety disorder lives in a state of constant nervousness. People with this disorder usually overreact to any type of stress. Typically, individuals have trouble making decisions and when they actually do this it usually only causes additional worries. Sufferers of general anxiety tend to have panic attacks. Some theorists think that this disorder is caused by a learned anxiety. For example, being nervous once about something and learning to avoid that something.
A phobia is a fear of a specific stimulus or situation. The sufferer of a phobia usually knows that the fear is irrational but cannot do anything about it. Phobia has three sub-classes: simple phobia, social phobia, and agoraphobia.
A simple phobia is a fear of a specific thing or situation. A person may have one phobia but be normal in all other aspects. However, in serious cases, a person may have multiple phobias that interfere with their everyday life.
Individuals with this class of phobia have an extreme fear of social situations and of embarassing themselves. The most common types of this phobia are public speaking and eating in public.
This is the most common phobia that people seeking professional help have.4It is also the most difficult to cure. This type of phobia creates an irrational fear of unfamiliar situations. People with agoraphobia avoid open spaces, crowds, traveling, and in extreme cases do not even leave their home.
"An obsession is the persistent intrusion of unwelcome thoughts, images, or impulses, that cause anxiety. A compulsion is an irresistable urge to carry out certain acts or rituals that reduce anxiety."4 These two things are often linked together. Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder know that their behavior is irrational, but are unable to resist. The resistance only causes them to become anxious and only the carrying out of the act will relieve that anxiety. Compulsion has many forms, but the two most common are washing and checking. The obsessive-compulsive disorder is related to the phobias in that both cause severe anxiety and a patient may suffer from both disorders.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by a traumatic event that overwhelms a person and ruins their ability to cope with a situation. It can cause flashbacks, nightmares, insomnia, and/or guilt. It is usually extremely long lasting.
Article © 1999 John Garvey
HTML © 1999 Katrina Spoor