Anxiety disorders are mental problems characterized by abnormally high levels of anxiety, which leads to negative outcomes in the life of the afflicted person. While anxiety is a natural human experience, anxiety in persons suffering from these disorders occur frequently and over prolonged periods.
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Anxiety disorders include “Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder (PD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)” (Bandelow 78). Several similarities and differences exist among these disorders.
Similarity among the disorders is that they all negatively affect the lives of the patients. The people suffering from these disorders may be unable to carry out normal activities. Patients of SAD will avoid interactions with other people and employ tactics to avoid social performances (Lochner 377). This will negatively affect the social and professional life of the person. Individuals with PD will avoid taking part in everyday activities such as going to for shopping out of fear that a panic attack will occur.
GAD results in intolerance to everyday uncertainties in life since the person finds indefinite situations stressful. OCD causes the person to avoid certain activities out of irrational thought. The individual might avoid carrying out responsibilities assigned to them at work or school due to their disorder. Individuals with PTSD may find it hard to form or maintain close relationships due to the emotional numbness or anger and aggression caused by the condition (Dyer 1100).
There are differences in the causes of various disorders. SAD and PD are often caused by traumatic experiences faced during the individual’s childhood years. Lochner explains that physical and emotional abuses suffered in the early years by the individual are predictive to the development of these two anxiety disorders (377).
PTSD is caused by past exposure to shocking or traumatizing events, for example, devastating accidents, brutal crimes, or life-threatening incidents. On the other hand, GAD is mostly caused by stressful life events being experienced by the person. Research suggests that OCD might have a genetic link since most OCD patients have family members with the same condition.
The various anxiety disorders differ in their symptoms and physical manifestation. GAD is characterized by the chronic worry that might lead to stress and mild headaches. Symptoms of panic disorder include excessive fear, and a person can experience dizziness and chest pains.
SAD can be characterized by excessive blushing, shaking, and confusion. Signs of PTSD might include tense feelings, trouble sleeping, and emotional numbness (Dyer 1102). OCD is characterized by the presence of obsessive thoughts that might be benign or malignant. Tortora and Zohar explain that persistent thoughts can lead to extreme behavior by the individual (23).
The various anxiety disorders are similar in that they can all be cured or mitigated through professional help. Bandelow reveals that the most common form of treatment for anxiety disorders is prescription medication (78). Anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants can be used to cure or alleviate the effects of these disorders and enable the patient to enjoy a normal life.
Psychotherapy can also be used to help identify the causes or triggers of the disorders (Bandelow 80). From this information, the psychiatrist can help the individual adopt means to deal with the disorder. Through the various treatment options, the disabling impacts of anxiety disorders can be overcome, allowing the person to enjoy an improved quality of life.
Bandelow, Borwin. “Guidelines for the pharmacological treatment of anxiety disorders, obsessive – compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder in primary care.” International Journal of Psychiatry in Clinical Practice 16.2(2012): 77–84. Print.
Dyer, Kevin. “Anger, aggression, and self-harm in PTSD and complex PTSD.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65.10 (2009): 1099-1114. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
Lochner, Christine. “Childhood trauma in adults with social anxiety disorder and panic disorder: a cross-national study.” Afr J Psychiatry 13.1 (2010): 376-381. Web. 2 Dec. 2014.
Tortora, Pato and Joseph Zohar, Current Treatments of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. NY: American Psychiatric Pub, 2008. Print.