What are Anxiety Disorders

Although this web site in the main appears to concern mostly OC illnesses other anxiety disorders, (a classification which includes OCD and a number of the OCSDs) should be included. Sufferers of all anxiety disorders have something in common namely severe and incapacitating anxiety.

Anxiety disorders* are the most common of all psychiatric disorders. Anxiety disorder is a term used for a group of psychological illness where anxiety, apprehension, tension, uneasiness or even outright fear is the main presenting symptom; the anxiety experienced is inappropriate to the situation or circumstance which normally one would not perceive as a threat. Compared to normal anxiety which every one experiences from time to time the anxiety which presents with an anxiety disorder is more intense, lasts for a longer duration and is far more debilitating and incapacitating. The anxiety can present both as acute anxiety such as that manifested in panic disorder in which the suffer experiences sudden and severe attacks of intense anxiety which can last for a few minutes to an hour, or as a more generalised less intense chronic anxiety which can last from weeks to months or exist permanently, as for example in the case of OCD and general anxiety disorder GAD. Although probably less severe than the acute anxiety experienced during a panic attack, chronic anxiety is just as debilitating presenting as it does persistent unrelenting and pervasive feelings of apprehension and dread. Both types of anxiety can present in the same person, for instance panic disorder with its sudden and severe acute attacks of overwhelming anxiety often exists co morbidly with just about any other anxiety disorder in particular agoraphobia. For a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder to be made, either one or both types of anxiety must be so extreme as to impede normal functioning and seriously interfere with the quality of life of the sufferer. If left untreated anxiety disorders tend to get worse.

Although OCD and some of the OCSDs are included in the category of anxiety disorders, and of course all OC illness including eating disorders certainly have anxiety as one of the prominent symptoms, most people when asked what is an anxiety disorder will more than likely not consider OC disorders as anxiety disorders in quite the same way as disorders that appear to have more overt and less complicated symptoms of anxiety such as a phobia or panic attacks.

This page concerns anxiety disorders of this nature not categorised as OC illnesses, for instance panic disorder, panic attacks, general anxiety disorder GAD, post traumatic stress disorder PTSD, agoraphobia, social phobia and specific phobias. It should be mentioned however that many of the anxiety disorders mentioned on this web page often exist co morbidly with OC disorders and many sufferers of anxiety disorders such as agoraphobia may of course display and have OC type symptoms. For example my sister a sufferer of social phobia from childhood and agoraphobia since early adulthood went on to suffer from anorexia nervosa and often she also exhibited mild OCD type thoughts. I recall my sister’s concern that she could not throw away anything that anyone had given her fearing that by doing so she was throwing away the giver, in other words causing him or her harm. My sister saved everything letters, gifts and so on. Such is a typical OCD type thought and consequent behaviour.

It is quite obvious therefore that there are overlaps, and boarder-lines between illnesses become vague. Furthermore in my personal experience and that of the many other sufferers whom I have known over the years that several anxiety disorders can exist co-morbidly. So lets take a look at some of the more usual anxiety disorders with which most people are familiar.

Please bear in mind that I have personal experience with only a few of these disorders and I am not a mental health professional. The brief explanations below are to provide background information only, for more expert information concerning the conditions included on this web site please visit the web sites listed in useful links
and refer to the appropriate books included in the recommended books page.

Lets have a look at some of the more common anxiety disorders:

Phobias

Panic Disorder

General Anxiety Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Important
This web site is intended to encourage sufferers to feel less alone by sharing experiences and accomplishments. This not a medical site, I have no medical qualifications. I am not a mental health professional. This web site represents my own perspective, some of which may not necessarily agree with current medical practice. Consult a doctor or mental health professional for treatment and never discontinue treatment prescribed by your doctor or mental health professional without prior consultation. Also note that I do not endorse or recommend any of the complimentary treatments mentioned in my book: Demons of the Mind: A Memoir of an Obsessive-Compulsive

My personal recommendations concerning complimentary medicine of any kind is to never undertake any treatment without consulting your doctor first and never replace treatment or supplement medication prescribed by your doctor with complimentary medicine without prior consultation with him or her. This is particularly important with homeopathic and herbal medicine as such treatments can have serious and dangerous interactions with orthodox medications.