People suffering from anxiety disorders are a diverse group as there are a number of different types of anxiety disorders. The most common anxiety disorders I see in private practice include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety (known as Social Phobia), Obsesssive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
GENERALIZED ANXIETY DISORDER: Essential feature is excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities. The individual experiences great difficulty in controlling the worry. Anxiety is accompanied by restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and/or sleep disturbance.
PANIC DISORDER: People with Panic Disorder experience panic attacks, which are discrete periods of intense fear or discomfort with associated cognitive and physiological symptoms (which may include palpitations, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, feeling of choking, nausea, dizziness, feeling detached, fear of losing control or going crazy, fear of dying, numbness or tingling sensations, and/or chills). Symptoms will peak in 10 minutes with classic panic. These associated symptoms are NOT due to a medical condition and must be ruled out first before diagnosis.
SOCIAL ANXIETY: Essential feature is marked and persistent fear of social and/or performance situations in which embarrassment may occur. Exposure to the feared social situation causes anxiety and tends to be avoided or endured with intense anxiety and distress.
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER: Essential features are recurrent obsessions (thoughts) or compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts) that are severe enough to be time consuming and/or cause significant distress. The person recognizes that the obsessions and/or compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.
POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER: Individuals with PTSD develop a set of symptoms following exposure to an extreme traumatic stressor in which they thought they (or another person) were going to die or experience serious injury. Symptoms include re-experiencing of the traumatic event (such as nightmares, flashbacks, distressing recollections of the event), persistent avoidance of cues or triggers associated with the event and/or numbness in general responsiveness (such as feeling detached from others, unable to feel a wide range of feelings), and persistent feelings of hyperarousal (such as sleep disturbance, irritability and anger outbursts, hypervigilance). These symptoms may present immediately after exposure to the trauma or with a delayed onset.