Anxiety and Related Disorders

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder characterized by obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are thoughts images or impulses that pop into someone’s mind even when they don’t want them. Obsessions are typically upsetting, distressing or anxiety producing. They don’t fit with the persons personality or anything theyactually want to happen. Compulsions,on the other hand,are behaviors or mental acts a person does in order the avoid the feelings that go along with the obsessions. In order to meet criteria for OCD, obsessions and compulsions must take up a significant portion of time, cause distress, and interfere significantly in the person’s life. Common obsessions include the idea that one is contaminated or dirty or that one may cause undue harm to themselves or someone they love. Common compulsions includerepetitive behaviors, avoidance,special words images or prayers and neutralizing. There are many forms of obsessions and many different types of compulsions. For more information visit www.iocdf.orgor talk to an OCDSpecialist.

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 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

 Many people experience traumatic events in their lives. Some survivors oftraumatic events go into to experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and continue to feel extreme anxiety and helplessness long after the trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, nightmares, extreme distress when reminded of the trauma, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating, hyper-alertness, and loss of interest in usual activities. There are highly effective psychotherapy programs for individuals who continue to suffer PTSD.Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PE) is one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. It helps sufferers by having them stop avoiding and begin approaching thoughts and feelings about the trauma. This helps individuals to change unhelpful thoughts and beliefs that they may hold about the trauma and the way they have coped. PE helps people to feel mastery over their world and their response to it.

For more information, visit :National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) An organization with the National Institute of health dedicated to mental health research:

Panic Disorder

 Individuals with panic disorder regularly suffer intense episodes of anxiety, known as panic attacks. They worry a lot about having more attacks, or about what effects of the attacks, andmakechanges to their behaviors because of the attacks.

Panic attacks begin suddenly and usually peak quickly, within 10 minutes or less of starting. Multiple attacks of different intensities may occur over several hours, which might feel as if one panic attack is rolling into the next, like waves. At first, panic attacks usually seem to come ‘out of the blue,’ but over time a person may come to expect them in certain situations. If a person begins to avoid these situations due to fear of a panic attack, they may also have agoraphobia.

These intense anxiety attacks include 4 or more of the following symptoms:

  • shortness of breath

  •  increased heart beats

  • trembling, shaking

  • dizziness

  • chest pain

  • sweating

  • chills or hot flashes

  • feelings of unreality or being detached from oneself

  • numbing or tingling sensations

  • nausea

  • choking sensations

  • fear of dying

  • fear of insanity or of losing control

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 Social Anxiety Disorder

Many people feel nervous in certain social settings. Meeting new people, going on a date, giving a performance - nearly everyone has experienced the anxiety that these situations can provoke. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, however, describes a marked, intense, and persistent fear of social situations that can be differentiated from the more typical fear that comes with discomforting situations.

The anxiety associated with SAD not only leaks into an individual’s social life but interferes with his or her everyday activities and professional life. While other mental health disorders cause social anxiety symptoms (e.g. sweating, palpitations, or panic attacks), social anxiety disorder refers only to individuals who specifically avoid or fear social situations.

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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) An organization with the National Institute of health dedicated to mental health research:


Specific Phobias

 A specific phobia is an intense, persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, situation, or activity, or person. Usually, the fear is proportionally greater than the actual danger or threat. People with specific phobias are highly distressed about having the fear, and often will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation in question. 

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Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD as it is more commonly referred to, is an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive worry or apprehension displayed across a variety of everyday situations or activities. Patients with GAD worry about things that most people will from time to time worry about, such as health, finances, work difficulties, or family problems. However, while most people are able to control their anxiety regarding these issues, those with GAD are unable to stop focusing on these everyday issues, often fearing the worst outcome for every situation for which they’re experiencing anxiety. Quite often the worry of GAD patients is out of proportion to the actual likelihood of their feared outcome. For instance, someone might be unable to stop worrying that they are not performing well at work and will soon be fired from their position, despite a complete lack of evidence that their job performance has been poor. GAD patients describe their anxiety as being constantly present in their daily lives. In addition to the uncontrollable worry, GAD patients also experience a variety of arousal symptoms, such as restlessness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and being easily fatigued. Sometimes, GAD patients experience physiological symptoms as a result of their constant state of apprehension. These can include nausea, headaches, and dry mouth among others. Generalized anxiety disorder causes its sufferers great distress and trouble functioning in several different areas, such as at work, at home with family, or when out socially with friends.

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Trichotillomania (or hair-pulling disorder) is characterized by the recurrent pulling out of one’s own hair. Hair pulling may occur from any region of the body in which hair grows; the most common sites are the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids. Individuals with trichotillomania have made repeated attempts to decrease or stop hair pulling and the pulling often results in feeling a loss of control, embarrassment, and shame. Hair pulling may be accompanied by a range of behaviors or rituals involving hair, such as searching for a particular kind of hair to pull, pulling hair in a specific way, or examining or feeling the hair after it has been pulled.

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