In Psychological Disorders Part 1, Neurodevelopmental and Bipolar Disorders were discussed. The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) contains a huge range of disorders which will be explained in a series of articles. This article discusses Anxiety and Stress-related disorders.
These disorders are characterized by persistent and extreme fear and worry. Fear is a response to a threat and anxiety is the anticipation of a threat in the future. There are various types of anxiety disorders which are explained further. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves extreme levels of worry about daily events, so much so that it interferes with the person’s daily functioning.
Panic Disorder involves having panic attacks in certain situations and so people start avoiding the situations which trigger a panic attack. A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear which brings symptoms like a sense of impending doom, rapid heart rate, sweating, shaking, chills, hot flashes, nausea, chest pain, headache, dizziness, and numbness.
Social Anxiety Disorder involves an irrational fear of being judged or watched. This is a very common disorder and it interferes with functioning at school, work, and other social settings. For example, a person can have a fear of going to a party because of the fear of being judged by everyone.
Agoraphobia involves a fear of public places, that is that the people with this disorder have a fear of anticipating a panic attack in a place where they cannot escape or deal with it.
Specific Phobias involves an extreme fear of a specific object or a situation, such as fear of insects, animals, height. When people are confronted by their phobic object, they experience trembling, nausea, and rapid heart rate. These phobias usually arise from a bad associating event they have had before in their life.
Separation Anxiety Disorder involves a high level of fear of being separated from things and the people they are attached to. This is most common in the case of young children having the fear of being away from their parents but it also exists for adults.
These previously used to be grouped with anxiety disorders but are now considered a separate category. These disorders usually arise because of trauma or stress-inducing event. Acute Stress Disorder involves severe anxiety for almost a month after a traumatic event, such as accidents or the death of a loved one. This can result in the person experiencing dissociative symptoms like inability to remember important parts of the event, flashbacks, and difficulty in experiencing positive emotions.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can arise after a person has gone through a very traumatic event. This disorder includes symptoms such as reliving the event, feeling on edge, having negative thoughts, avoiding things that remind them of the event, nightmares, bursts of anger, and difficulty in concentrating.
Adjustment Disorders can arise because of a sudden change in life like losing a job, a break-up, shifting from one state to another. This disorder can bring symptoms like anxiety, worry, hopelessness, feeling of isolation, depressed mood.
Reactive Attachment Disorder forms when children in their early years of childhood fail to form a healthy relationship with their adult caregiver which later on results in being withdrawn from these caregivers, and they might also face social and emotional disturbance.
Some people keep claiming they have anxiety when they are just suffering from fear, same with the use of PTSD. It is important to not self-diagnose yourself as you might not be qualified to do so and it is wrong to claim to have disorders when you don’t as it creates a negative environment for people who are actually suffering from these disorders. It is important to consult a psychologist if you face any of the symptoms you think might point to anxiety or stress-related disorder as there are therapies to deal with it.
Note: this is the Part 2 of the Psychological Disorders series.