Anxiety Disorders

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Panic Disorder

Phobias

Agoraphobia

Social Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

 

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) occurs when people experience excessive worry and find it difficult to tolerate any degree of uncertainty.  In addition to worrying about events, they also fear that their worries are becoming 'out of control'.  Although it is usual for most people to worry some of the time, people suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder will experience chronic worry that is difficult to control.  It can lead to physical symptoms such as aches and pains, palpitations, dizziness, fatigue, irritability and poor concentration.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is shown to be very effective for this problem with long lasting benefits.
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Panic Disorder

This is when people experience recurrent panic attacks.  These are episodes of sudden feelings of intense fear, terror or apprehension accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, increased heart rate, palpitations, sweating, trembling, dizziness and digestive upsets.  There is often a secondary fear of dying, losing control or going mad.  Panic attacks are caused by a massive rush of stress hormone which is triggered by the brain when it detects a physical or psychological threat.  People can become fearful of having panic attacks and will often avoid situations where they have experienced them before.  This can significantly affect their day-to-day activities and reduce their self-confidence and enjoyment of life.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of panic attacks.
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Phobias

A phobia is normally defined as an unreasonable fear of a particular situation or object.  Exposure to the feared object or situation leads to severe symptoms of anxiety and panic, and an urgent need to escape.  The person will, as far as possible, try and avoid the feared object or situation which can lead to undue distress and disruption in daily life.  Common phobias include fear of animals, insects, heights, flying, enclosed places, public transport and the sight of blood or injury.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the treatment of choice for phobias.
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Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety in which people become frightened of particular situations resulting in avoidance of these feared places.  It is often associated with having panic attacks or the fear of having such attacks.  The feared locations may be shops, public places, public transport, supermarkets, or wide open spaces.  The fears lead to a gradual decrease in the range of locations that a person feels comfortable in until they may not be able to leave home. There may be a range of safety behaviours which help including needing to be with someone or taking medication.  Agoraphobics often are also low in mood due to the impact their fears have on their lives.  Treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy involves providing skills and techniques to help people gradually return to going out into the community.
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Social Anxiety Disorder 

Social Anxiety Disorder (or excessive shyness) is a fear of social or performance situations.  The individual believes that they will be embarrassed or humiliated and that others will evaluate them in a very negative way.  Problems usually develop in childhood and adolescence and often the person may believe that this is part of their personality.  Social Anxiety is quite common, and it can cause people to withdraw from others and result in low self-esteem, loneliness and the avoidance of forming lasting relationships.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and the learning of social skills, assertiveness and improving self-esteem can provide an effective way of dealing with social anxiety.
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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterised by the occurrence of obsessions which are followed by compulsive acts.  The obsessions are persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are seen as intrusive and uncontrollable.  A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or ritual, which may be an action or a thought, and is believed to neutralize or prevent the feared event or consequence happening.  If the compulsion is resisted, anxiety increases until the affected person completes the ritual, and this leads to the maintenance of the cycle.  The obsessions and compulsions can be very time consuming and cause marked distress or interfere with normal day-to-day activities.  Common obsessive thoughts revolve around the themes of harm to the self or others, contamination and germs, violent, sexual or blasphemous thoughts, order and arrangements of items, and hoarding of items.  The compulsive behaviours can include excessive checking, handwashing, ordering objects, counting, praying, repeating words or using numbered sequences.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been shown to be very effective at reducing the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder arising as a delayed and prolonged response to experiencing a traumatic event involving actual or threatened death or harm to self or others.  Not everyone who is exposed to a traumatic event will suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The symptoms include persistent re-experiencing of the traumatic event, distressing memories and recurrent dreams of the event, and sensations of reliving the experience.  People can also experience distress and physiological reactions in response to instances similar to the event.  Furthermore, there may be feelings of numbness or detachment, and an avoidance of situations or places that may trigger memories of the trauma.  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is considered to be one of the treatments of choice for alleviating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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