Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Anxiety Disorders

86542321_woman_stressed_web.jpg (Small 210px)Anxiety Disorders

To be clear, everyone has anxiety. This does not mean you have a disorder. Wether it is traffic, dreading an upcoming event or balancing your checkbook, it is perfectually natural to have anxiety during the anxious moment. When the anxiety does not ease as the stressful situation subsides, you may have a disorder that needs to be addressed. Below are some of the most well-known anxiety disorders.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a about ritual and the urge to continue doing something over and over, compulsively. Constant preoccupation with these actions, mentally obsessing, goes along with the behavior.

A popular disorder used in pop-culture today, OCD's symptoms can be found in many. Lots of people feel the need to clean their hands several times a day, or not step on a crack. Only if these rituals are distressing are they a problem.

Panic Disorder

Many people have the occasional panic attack. At the onset of a stressful moment you might break into a sweat, tremble, or even feel chest pains. These feelings usually subside. People who have an actual panic disorder have the attacks repeatedly and the feelings seem to come from nowhere. They can last several minutes and deeply affect quality of life. The fear of more attacks can make the sufferer feel paralyzed and unable to lead a normal life.

Phobias

Most people have things they fear, from roller coasters to natural disasters. Some people’s fears are intense, but as with the roller coaster fear, they can be easily avoided and not cause any harm to a person’s daily life. When you develop a strong fear such as agoraphobia which is the fear of leaving the safety of your home, it makes it extremely difficult to live a normal life. Therapy can be helpful in easing these fears, and support groups are often beneficial.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

What was once called Battle Fatigue and often diagnosed in war veterans, this disorder is actually a common response to a traumatic event. Survivors of natural disasters often have a “shell shocked” appearance and can’t help but relive the life threatening disaster in their minds. Sometimes the PTSD doesn’t present itself immediately, but returns to a person’s thoughts in dreams or flashbacks. If these symptoms persist for months, and are affecting your ability to enjoy life, talk therapy can help you work through the emotional trauma. Support groups are often started up after a large scale disaster (post 9-11 groups for example) and it can be helpful to know you are not alone.

How does a person with a diagnosis get well?

Recovery from a disorder involves proper treatment, support and education. The most important steps to a person's recovery are to see a doctor, stick to a treatment plan of medication if prescribed and to keep all appointments with the doctor and therapist. Participating in an appropriate support group is also helpful during the recovery process, as is educating oneself about your diagnosis and the treatments available.

This site cannot be used to initiate emergency contact. We cannot respond on-line to crisis situations. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

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