Common Anxiety Disorders Explained

What is the Difference Between Anxiety and Anxiety Disorder?

A disorder is a more serious mental or emotional problem which significantly interferes with major life skills such as work and relationships and can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health specialist. Simply feeling anxiety (nervousness, fear) is a normal and universal experience that can be brief but might provide painful discomfort. Following are some common types of anxiety disorders.

What is the Most Common Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder  (GAD) is the most common type and involves worry about more than one type of situation.  People diagnosed with the disorder are habitual chronic worriers that continue to worry even about common problems that most people don’t worry about. They have strong beliefs that worry is necessary to prevent problems and often also believe worry is dangerous to mental health.

What is a Panic Disorder?

Panic disorder involves having dread about repeating episodes of  intense anxiety, often called ‘attacks’, in which a variety of fearful symptoms occur such as shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, sweat not brought on by heat, muscle tension and rapid breathing.

Common fears include dying or being out of mental control and often suffers fear public embarrassment when experiencing these symptoms.  Panic episodes (or ‘attacks’ are fairly common and are experience by about 1 in 5 people in a year period. However, people with the disorder often are more disabled because their dread and belief that they of panic episodes that often seem to come ‘out of the blue’.

Commonly people with the disorder develop avoidance of any situation in which they might have these symptoms. Even though people with the disorder often feel hopeless about ever overcoming this scary problem, effective methods have been devised and used for more than 20 years and can be relatively brief.

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia is not a disorder in the common sense but often occurs as a consequence of panic disorder and is commonly described as a fear of being in places where they might be embarrassed with symptoms of a panic episode.  Often they fear that if in public they might need medical or mental health aids to prevent the dire consequences they fear.

This condition, if untreated along with panic disorder can have devastating effects on the quality of life since people often have great difficulty leaving their homes or places of comfort and very often crave the support of a companion that might soothe anxiety and help out.

What is Social Anxiety Disorder?

Social anxiety ranges from simply being shy to experiencing such anxiety that the person with this disorder can be seriously impaired and avoiding social contact as much as possible.

In my experience I see many people who are employed in occupations which require minimal social contact using skills such as engineering or computer programming but run into trouble when they are asked to manage others or give presentations.  Also, I have worked with others who need to make marketing calls.

However, people with high social anxiety generally have problems in social situations because these are triggers for challenging their self-esteem and they learn to focus inside which almost inevitably turns to negative self evaluations, including the fear of failure or being seen as inferior.

So deeply held are these beliefs that it is not uncommon for people seeking treatment to fear that I would judge them as harshly as they judge themselves. They tend to predict social failure before events and even if there is no objective evidence of being rejected or slighted they agonize over the negative possibilities of social events after they are again alone.  Thus, their minds are often very active and self focused on their inadequacies. Often, in addition to running into problems of social performance on the job they lead lonely lives outside of their families.

I am a licensed and experienced anxiety therapist in Orange County servicing Huntington Beach and area. I have worked with many clients to help them overcome the anxiety-related challenges they are facing. I would love to give you a free half hour phone consultation and help you decide if therapy is right for you. Find out more at my website or phone me at (714) 960-2490 for more information.

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