Anxiety Disorder

People with anxiety disorders respond to certain objects or situations with fear and dread. They have physical reactions to those objects, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating. An anxiety disorder is diagnosed if a person:

  • Has an inappropriate response to a situation

  • Cannot control the response

  • Has an altered way of life due to the anxiety

Anxiety disorders include:

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder. It causes panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror for no reason. You may also feel physical symptoms, such as:

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Chest pain

  • Breathing difficulty

  • Dizziness

 

Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. You may live in fear of another attack and may avoid places where you have had an attack. For some people, fear takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes.

Panic disorder is more common in women than men. It usually starts when people are young adults. Sometimes it starts when a person is under a lot of stress. Most people get better with treatment. Therapy can show you how to recognize and change your thinking patterns before they lead to panic. Medicines can also help.

Phobias

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. It is a strong, irrational fear of something that poses

little or no actual danger. There are many specific phobias. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. You may be able to ski the world's tallest mountains but be unable to go above the 5th floor of an office building. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places, and claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. If you become anxious and extremely self-conscious in everyday social situations, you could have a social phobia. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.

People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience:

  • Panic and fear

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Shortness of breath

  • Trembling

  • A strong desire to get away

Treatment helps most people with phobias. Options include medicines, therapy or both.

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