Anxiety, What is it?
Defining Anxiety Disorders
This page will define and describe a few of the more common anxiety disorders that occur, such as, what are panic attacks, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and phobias.
First, I will explain how panic attacks are diagnosed. Panic attacks are diagnosed within the framework of Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is when a person has anxiety about being in place or situation that they feel escape would be difficult or embarrassing or in which they believe help would not be available if they were to have a panic attack or be in a situation which they feel panic attacks occur, such as being outside of their home, alone, in a crowd, standing in line, being on a bridge, and/or traveling in a car, bus, or train. therefore these situations are avoided or endured with marked distress.
When Panic attacks are diagnosed, they are either diagnosed as:
Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia 300.01
Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia 300.21
A panic attack is when a person experiences extreme to moderate discomfort or fear, in which these feelings reach a peak within 10 minutes. The symptoms that accompany this fear or discomfort consist of 4 or more of the following, according to the DSM-IV (the diagnostic criteria that psychologists and physicians use to diagnose a psychological disorder):
* Heart pounding, acceleration, or palpitations
* Trembling or shaking
* Sensations of choking
* Pain in your chest or discomfort
* Feeling vertigo, dizzy, lightheaded, or faint/fainting
* Feeling that what is occurring around you is disconnected from you, for example, you hear yourself talking but your voice seems far away or not like yours, or you are looking in the mirror and you don't recognize yourself or you wonder if that is you, or you question if that is what you look like. You may have a feeling of unreality. This is called depersonalization
* Fear of going crazy, dying, or losing control
* Numbness or tingling sensations in your body, mostly occurs in the hands, arms, feet, or legs, and this is not due to a physical problem like carpal tunnel.
* Hot flashes or chills
To recap 4 of the above symptoms are occurring at the same time and the fear and discomfort peak within 10 minutes of onset.
Now I'm going to discuss Social Phobias:
A social phobia consists of a persistent fear of being in social situations where the fear is about being exposed to unfamiliar situations or judgment. Being exposed to a feared social situation almost invariably causes anxiety, as in the form of a panic attack, or just fear.
The criteria for social phobias consists of:
*That you recognize that the fear is excessive or unreasonable.
*The social situations are avoided, or endured with much anxiety and discomfort and that this fear and discomfort is interfering with your normal routine, work, school, relationships, and/or social situations.
*These symptoms have been occurring for at least 6 months (not all these need to be present).
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER 300.3
This is another type of anxiety disorder that is characterized byeither obsessions or compulsions.
Obsessions are recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced at sometime during a disturbance as intrusive and inappropriate. These obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worry about real life problems and they cause marked anxiety or distress. The person also realizes that these obsessive thoughts, impulses, and/or images are a product of their own mind.
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, ordering, checking, or mental acts such as counting, praying repeating words silently and the person feels driven to perform in response to an obsession or according to their rigid rules that must be applied.
These behaviors or mental acts are performed to try to reduce distress or prevent a dreaded situation form occurring, but they are not connected in a realistic way to the situation they are trying to avoid and they are clearly excessive.
The obsessions or compulsions are excessive and unreasonable and they cause marked distress for the person and take up more than 1 hour a day and significantly interferes with a person's relationships, normal routine, or occupational, social, academic functioning.
If your are uncomfortable, stressed, distressed and not doing the things you would like to do, or if you do not feel you are being all you can be and experiencing life to its fullest, then you might want to look a little further into these feelings or uncomfortable occurrences.
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Lori Little, MA, Psychotherapist
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We have provided suggested reading and products to aid in the therapeutic process of beating anxiety.
I recommend to those who enter therapy to read "The Secret". Learn to focus on what you want, not what you do not want. That is a key ingredient to overcoming anxiety, depression, and the self-medicating behavior that often accompanies these feelings.
Begin your path toward healing yourself to attain your goals in life.
This is a wonderful tool to help you learn how to manage your negative self-talk.