Anxiety can look a little different in everyone. While all forms of anxiety share common features, like fear or worry, each Anxiety Disorder is a little different. There are actually seven main Anxiety Disorders listed in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5). All of following cause significant problems in major areas of life, like school, work, or relationships. The descriptions below are not exhaustive and the reader should not attempt to self-diagnoses by reading the descriptions.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by excessive anxiety and worry over several events or activities, such as work or school performance and the person finds it difficult to control the worry. Along with the anxiety and worry, the person can experience restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, or sleep problems.
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by significant fear or anxiety in social situations where the individual may be scrutinized by others. Typical examples include social interactions (e.g., being at a party, going on a job interview, going on a date) and performing in front of others (e.g., giving a speech). In these situations, the person fears acting in a way that will lead to humiliation or rejection. The person usually avoids feared social interactions or endures them with much anxiety.
Panic Disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a sudden rush of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and during which time other symptoms occur, like pounding or rapid heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking, difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, nausea, or feeling dizzy or light-headed. The person may also fear losing control, “going crazy”, or fear that they are dying. After the panic attack, the person worries about having additional panic attacks and avoids situations that they feel may lead to a panic attack.
Agoraphobia is characterized by significant fear or anxiety about being in various situations where escape might be difficult or help might not be available in the event of a panic attack or another embarrassing problem, like falling or losing control of one’s bladder. Situations an individual might avoid include riding in a car or bus, being on a bridge, being in an enclosed space (e.g., a theater or elevator), or being outside of home alone.
Specific Phobia is characterized by significant fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation, like heights, insects, or seeing blood. Activities associated with the feared object or situation (e.g., flying, having blood drawn) are avoided or endured with intense fear or anxiety.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety about being separated from, or losing, a major attachment figure, like a parent, and the fear or anxiety is developmentally inappropriate. This means that the age of the person is considered. When a toddler experiences some anxiety, maybe shown by crying, when his mother leaves him at day care for the first time, this is normal. When an older child will not be left at school because of fear of being away from his parent, and this problem is ongoing and excessive, Separation Anxiety Disorder may be considered.
Selective Mutism is characterized by a consistent failure to speak in certain social situations when there is an expectation to speak. This happens despite the ability to speak in other situations. For example, a child speaks to her parents and siblings at home just fine, but will not talk at all to her teacher or peers at school.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these challenges, contact me today to discuss how these challenges are affecting your life and how you can get the help you or your loved one needs. I provide assessment and treatment for Anxiety Disorders in Southlake and surrounding areas.