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All About Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

anxiety disorder imageAnxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying.

These disorders affect how we feel and behave, and they can manifest real physical symptoms. Mild anxiety is vague and unsettling, while severe anxiety can be extremely debilitating, having a serious impact on daily life.

People often experience a general state of worry or fear before confronting something challenging such as a test, examination, recital, or interview. These feelings are easily justified and considered normal. Anxiety is considered a problem when symptoms interfere with a person’s ability to sleep or otherwise function. Generally speaking, anxiety occurs when a reaction is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

Anxiety disorders can be classified into several more specific types. The most common are briefly described below.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a chronic disorder characterized by excessive, long-lasting anxiety and worry about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations.

GAD sufferers often feel afraid and worry about health, money, family, work, or school, but they have trouble both identifying the specific fear and controlling the worries. Their fear is usually unrealistic or out of proportion with what may be expected in their situation. Sufferers expect failure and disaster to the point that it interferes with daily functions like work, school, social activities, and relationships.

In this short video from The Psych Network, Dr. Sylvia Gearing discusses Generalized Anxiety Disorder and how it affects sufferers.

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety characterized by brief or sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension that leads to shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulty breathing. Panic attacks tend to arise abruptly and peak after 10 minutes, but they then may last for hours. Panic disorders usually occur after frightening experiences or prolonged stress, but they can be spontaneous as well.

A panic attack may lead an individual to be acutely aware of any change in normal body function, interpreting it as a life threatening illness – hypervigiliance followed by hypochondriasis. In addition, panic attacks lead a sufferer to expect future attacks, which may cause drastic behavioral changes in order to avoid these attacks.

Phobias

A Phobia is an irrational fear and avoidance of an object or situation. Phobias are different from generalized anxiety disorders because a phobia has a fear response identified with a specific cause. The fear may be acknowledged as irrational or unnecessary, but the person is still unable to control the anxiety that results. Stimuli for phobia may be as varied as situations, animals, or everyday objects. For example, agoraphobia occurs when one avoids a place or situation to avoid an anxiety or panic attack. Agoraphobics will situate themselves so that escape will not be difficult or embarrassing, and they will change their behavior to reduce anxiety about being able to escape.

In this short video from HealthGuru, Dr. J. Clive Spiegel M.D. talks about the difference between fear and phobia.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is a type of social phobia characterized by a fear of being negatively judged by others or a fear of public embarrassment due to impulsive actions. This includes feelings such as stage fright, a fear of intimacy, and a fear of humiliation. This disorder can cause people to avoid public situations and human contact to the point that normal life is rendered impossible.

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Phobias may be cured by watching others – an interesting study reveals

Big scary spider

Whether it is a fear of spiders, snakes or heights, many of us have phobias that we would love to be rid of for good. Now, a new study suggests that we can, by watching other individuals interact with the object or scenario that frightens us.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden say that experiencing our fears through the actions of another person may be more effective than trying to combat our fears directly, and it could even prevent them from resurfacing.

Previous studies have suggested that social forms of learning may trigger phobias, the researchers say. From this, they wanted to see whether it could also help to suppress them.

The study, published in Psychological Science, involved conducting a vicarious learning experiment on 36 male participants.

All participants were shown a series of faces. The appearance of one face was followed by an unpleasant electrical stimulation to the wrist six out of the nine times it was presented. The researchers say this was to teach the participants to associate the target face with the electric shock.

The researchers then showed the participants two movie clips of the same experiment in which the target face was not linked to the electrical stimulation. One movie clip showed a person carrying out the experiment, while the other clip did not.

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