Anxiety disorders are disorders in which a person feels nervous or uneasy in some pervasive, particularly strong or unnecessary way, which can impair their life as a result. It can cause psychological stress on the person as well as physical symptoms.
EXAMPLESweating, rapid heart rate, upset stomach, dizziness, and trouble concentrating are possible symptoms of an anxiety disorder.
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder. The word phobia comes from the Greek word phobos, which means fear. It is also the name of the Greek god of fear. A phobia is any strong, irrational fear of specific things or situations.
EXAMPLEHematophobia is a fear of blood, and coulrophobia is a fear of clowns.
EXAMPLEArachnophobia is a fear of spiders. Spiders can hurt you; however, a person that has arachnophobia can have a serious or debilitating reaction to them. If this person sees a spider, they might run screaming and not be able to control themselves until they get away from the spider.
One common type of phobia is social phobia, which is a fear of being in social situations and interacting with others in a public place--a phobia that can adverse consequences for a person.
EXAMPLEIf a person has a social phobia, they might decide to stay at home all the time, and may not be building personal relationships.
EXAMPLEIf a person has arachnophobia, they might first be shown a picture of a spider. The next step may be being placed in a room with a spider on the other side of it. Gradually, the person might move closer, and may actually end up holding the spider.
Another type of anxiety disorder is obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. This is a disorder where a person becomes especially preoccupied with certain thoughts or feelings, and has a strong motivation to perform certain actions--a result of the preoccupying thoughts and feelings.
These thoughts and feelings are called obsessions, and they are often unwanted and intrusive. Usually, these thoughts are negative, and they can create intense feelings of anxiety or worry in a person.
EXAMPLEA person might constantly have a concern or fear of being hurt by something, or they might constantly feel unclean and have a compulsion to get clean in some way.
Compulsions are actions that a person performs repeatedly, to reduce the feelings of anxiety they have. Usually, these compulsions are irrational. The actions don't actually prevent the person from experiencing their fear, but they do help to distract the person or push those thoughts out of their mind in some way. Sometimes the compulsion must be enacted in a certain way or in a certain number.
EXAMPLEA person might have a sudden fear of being hurt that goes away when they count certain things like heart beats or footsteps.
Another form of obsessive-compulsive disorder is hoarding. A person may feel the need to keep everything or certain types of things.
EXAMPLEFor instance, a person might feel like they need to keep every kind of cereal box in order to keep their anxious thoughts at bay.
OCD is often treated with cognitive behavioral therapy. The person learns to refrain from certain kinds of compulsive behavior and to recognize these irrational thought processes. Gradually, a person will learn to reduce their stress and anxiety, and to realize that the compulsions don't necessarily help with their obsessions.
Source: This work is adapted from Sophia Author Erick Taggart.