Anxiety Disorders

 

Learn more about the symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Separation Anxiety Disorder, Selective Mutism and Specific Phobia. The most common treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressants


Generalized Anxiety Disorder

  • Excessive anxiety and worry occurring most days for at least six months.
  • Difficulty controlling the worry.
  • Anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following symptoms:
    • Restlessness.
    • Being easily fatigued.
    • Difficulty concentrating.
    • Feeling irritable.
    • Muscle tension.
    • Sleep disturbances.
  • These symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in work, social life, or other areas of functioning.
  • These symptoms cannot be caused by a substance, medication, medical condition or other mental disorder.

Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Significant fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others, such as social interactions or performing in front of others.
  • The fear that he or she will act in a way that will be humiliating or embarrassing and will lead to rejection or offend others.
  • Social situations provoke fear or anxiety.
  • Social situations are avoided or experienced with intense fear or anxiety.
  • The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the social situation.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance last six months or more and cause significant distress or impairment in social or work life.
  • These symptoms cannot be attributed to any substance, medication, or other medical or mental condition.

Panic Disorder

  • A panic attack is a sudden occurrence of intense fear or discomfort that peaks within minutes. These attacks are recurrent and unexpected.  Four or more of the following symptoms occur during a panic attack:
    • Increased heart rate.
    • Sweating.
    • Shaking or trembling.
    • Feeling shortness of breath.
    • Feelings of choking.
    • Chest pain or discomfort.
    • Nausea or upset stomach.
    • Feeling dizzy, faint or light-headed.
    • Feeling excessive cold or heat.
    • Numbness or tingling sensations.
    • Feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself.
    • Fear of losing control or “going crazy.”
    • Fear of dying.
  • At least one of the attacks has been followed by at least one month of one or both of the following:
    • Persistent worry about additional panic attacks or their consequences.
    • A significant negative change in behavior related to the attacks (such as avoiding situations to avoid panic attacks).
  • These symptoms cannot be attributed to any other substance, medication, or other medical or mental condition.

Agoraphobia 

  • Marked fear or anxiety about two or more of the following situations:
    • Using public transportation.
    • Open spaces (such as markets or parking lots).
    • Enclosed spaces (such as theaters or stores).
    • Standing in line or being in a crowd.
    • Being outside of the home alone.
  • The individual fears these situations because of thoughts that escape might be difficult or help might not be available if panic symptoms or other embarrassing symptoms occur.
  • The agoraphobic situations provoke fear or anxiety.
  • The agoraphobic situations are avoided, require the presence of a companion, or are experienced with intense fear or anxiety.
  • The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the situation.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance lasts at least six months and causes significant impairment in social or work life.
  • These symptoms cannot be attributed to any other substance, medication, or other medical or mental condition.

Separation Anxiety Disorder 

  • Developmentally inappropriate and excessive fear or anxiety about separation from those to whom the individual is attached, as shown by the presence of at least three of the following:
    • Recurrent excessive distress when anticipating or experiencing separation from home or from major attachment figures.
    • Excessive worry about losing major attachment figures or worry about possible harm to them, such as illness, accidents, or death.
    • Excessive worry about experiencing a bad event (such as becoming ill or getting lost) that causes separation from a major attachment figure.
    • Persistent reluctance or refusal to go out, away from home because of fear of separation.
    • Excessive fear of being alone or without major attachment figures at home or at other places.
    • Reluctance or refusal to sleep away from home or go to sleep without being near a major attachment figure.
    • Having nightmares about separation.
    • Having physical symptoms (such as headaches and stomachaches) when separation from major attachment figures occurs or is anticipated.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance lasts at least four weeks in children (and adolescents) and six months or more in adults.
  • The symptoms cause significant distress in many areas of life and are not explained by another mental or medical disorder.

*Major attachment figure is someone to whom an individual is emotionally close to and sometimes dependent upon.

Selective Mutism

This disorder is present when an individual consistently fails to speak in specific social situations where speaking is expected.  The disturbance interferes with school or work achievement and lasts at least one month.  These symptoms are not due to lack of knowledge or language barrier.  The disturbance is not better explained by a communication disorder or other mental condition.

Specific Phobia

This disorder is present when there is a significant fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation.  The feared object or situation provokes an immediate response.  The object or situation is actively avoided or experienced with intense fear or anxiety.  The fear is out of proportion to the actual threat posed by the object or situation.  The fear, anxiety, or avoidance last for at least six months and cause significant distress or impairment in social and/or work life.   Some examples of phobias include animals (dogs, insects), heights, injections, invasive medical procedures, airplanes, elevators, and enclosed spaces. 

 

The above criteria are adapted from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).