The term 'anxiety disorder' actually applies to several conditions that make people feel anxious on a frequent basis. Some of the more common anxiety disorders include panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), separation anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), various phobias, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Here is a quick overview of each condition along with treatment options.
NOTE: You must always talk to a medical professional about any and all health concerns, including those related to anxiety.
Panic disorder is described as intense, brief incidents of hesitation or fear. Even though most people find the worst of it passes after ten to twenty minutes, sometimes the disorder escalates into a panic attack. A person with this anxiety disorder may believe they are having a heart attack or dying, and may seek emergency medical service (it's always better to err on the side of caution) for their symptoms.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is usually associated with people who do repeated actions or rituals that don't make apparent sense to an outside observer; for example, checking thirty times to see if the oven as bee turned off, frequent hand washing, or touching every telephone pole as they walk down the street. However, OCD also extends to a person's thoughts and can be manifested in other ways which connect a particular action with a desired result, even though the two aren't actually connected.
Separation anxiety occurs when the sufferer is separated from a place or person. A common example of this is when a toddler has a tantrum when their parents leave them with a babysitter. While this is fairly normal, it can become an issue if it is excessive in a child, or if it continues into adulthood.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is often associated with soldiers returning from combat, but can happen to anyone who has gone through a traumatic experience. The experience may be a one-time event or a prolonged series of events. Symptoms often include depression, anxiety, and reliving the events (flashbacks).
Phobias come in many different varieties and make up a large portion of all anxiety disorders. If you are afraid of something specific such as dogs, spiders, open spaces, social situations, clowns, snakes, water, or anything else for that matter, then you probably have a phobia. However, if you have a lower level of fear for just about everything, then you may have the following condition…
Generalized anxiety disorder is just what it sounds like: having an overall, general anxiety about all kinds of things. While most people get anxious about something at any given moment, somebody with GAD has a constant sense of anxiety about several things at the same time.
Each anxiety disorder has several treatment options available. Generally speaking, the treatment will involve learning coping mechanisms, medication, or both. Because everybody is different, it may take a bit of trial and error to find the most effective treatment for an individual. The good news is that effective treatment is possible.