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Anxiety Disorders

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Anxiety Disorders

Your hands are sweating. Your heart rate is high. You have this feeling that something terrible is going to happen. Your mind is racing. If you look around, there is absolute calm and peace around you? So why are your mind and body reacting in this way? It could be anxiety.

  • What is an anxiety disorder?
  • What are types of anxiety disorders?
  • What are symptoms of anxiety disorders?
  • What are possible causes for anxiety disorders?
  • What are treatments for anxiety disorders?

Anxiety Disorder Definition

We all have felt nervous or worried, which is normal in human life and experiences. Sometimes life events can be scary and make us worry about the future or certain outcomes. When do fear and worry become that of an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety Disorder, woman feeling anxious, StudySmarterAnxiety, pixabay.com

The Diagnostics and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) explains that worry and anxiousness become a disorder when these feelings become excessive and uncontrollable.

Also, usual fear and worry often go away, whereas, for those with anxiety disorders, the worry does not seem to leave. So, is it just having lots of concerns and anxious feelings that constitutes having an anxiety disorder? Let's take a look at the symptoms that are associated with anxiety disorders.

Symptoms and Types of Anxiety Disorders

There are different types of anxiety disorders, and one of those is generalized anxiety disorder. Symptoms and definitions for each of these types appear similar, but slight differences exist.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

Self-reported symptoms are crucial for a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. Feelings of danger or doom is a common self-reported symptom followed by an elevated heart rate or sweating. Finally, many patients report having trouble concentrating because of the current sense of fear.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), those diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worry excessively and feel fear on most days within six months. These feelings are present in their social interactions, work-related issues, or daily routines. Because the fear and worry are excessive, people with GAD experience difficulties conducting even simple tasks.

Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • Problems with falling asleep or staying asleep

  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling nervousness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Fatigue

Anxiety Disorder, woman having problems falling asleep, StudySmarterSleepless, freepic.com

Other types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, social anxiety disorders, and separation anxiety.

But why do some people feel as though they are always in danger or fear something? Let's take a look at some causes of anxiety disorders and their examples.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2021) lists many risk factors and state that some of the proposed major influences are genetics and environmental factors:

  • A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in other family members.
  • Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, especially in early childhood.
  • Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.

Is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) an Anxiety Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder brought on by extreme factors. In this case, a person has often experienced extreme violence or a terrifying event. Examples of such events are natural disasters, military combat, or personal assaults. Anxiety resulting from PTSD is known to last for years and requires many therapy sessions and medications to help cope with symptoms.

There are slightly different symptoms as well, such as:

  • Negative thoughts of the world or even of themselves.
  • Feelings of guilt or blaming themselves for the events.
  • Trouble remembering portions of the traumatic event.

Treatments for Anxiety Disorders

In the case of anxiety disorders, a professional clinician may find that a combination of psychotherapy and medications produces the best results. While these may not cure an anxiety disorder, it is the most beneficial way to cope with symptoms. So which psychotherapies and medications are best?

Psychotherapy

The most common choice of psychotherapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy which is considered the most effective. Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps those with an anxiety disorder by allowing them to identify triggers and symptoms. Encouraging the patient to think differently about their triggers and possibly changing their behaviors and thoughts of the situations causing anxiety can help neutralize future anxieties. There is also group therapy for those who suffer from anxiety disorders. This type of therapy helps patients by bringing together people who share similar feelings and thoughts.

Medications

In other efforts to relieve symptoms of anxiety, medications can be prescribed.

Benzodiazepines

The most commonly prescribed medication for symptoms of anxiety is benzodiazepines. This medication should be considered for short-term usage and has been found to work better than anti-depressants. However, it has been found that this medication loses its effectiveness after some time. Also, when a person suddenly stops taking it, they experience withdrawal symptoms.

Anxiety Disorders, medication for treating anxiety symptoms, StudySmarterMedications, flaticon.com

Anti-depressants

Anti-depressant medications can balance chemicals within the brain responsible for stress or our moods. This medication takes longer to work, and there is a trial-and-error period of finding which anti-depressant medication is best. According to the NIMH (2021), "Antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used as first-line treatments for anxiety. Less-commonly used — but effective — treatments for anxiety disorders are older classes of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)." Finding the proper medication and dosage can be a lot of work but can be helpful with symptoms of anxiety.

In Summary

Dealing with anxiety can be difficult. With the help of therapy and medications, there is hope to cope and potentially surpass the issues causing symptoms. Most importantly, speaking to a professional about these symptoms and how they affect daily life is the most important first step to getting help.

Anxiety Disorders - Key takeaways

  • Anxiety disorder occurs when worry and fear become chronic and excessive.
  • Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can include problems falling or staying asleep, muscle tension, difficulty controlling nervousness, problems concentrating, and fatigue.
  • Possible causes for an anxiety disorder: a history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in other family members, exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, especially in early childhood, and some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is considered the most effective for anxiety disorders.
  • Benzodiazepines and anti-depressants are medications used for anxiety disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions about Anxiety Disorders

An anxiety disorder happens when worry and anxiousness become excessive and uncontrollable.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that is brought on by extreme factors.

Those diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) worry excessively and feel fear on most days within six months. These feelings are present in their social interactions, work-related issues, or daily routines.

Possible causes include:

- A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in other family members.

- Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, especially in early childhood.

- Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorders, and separation anxiety.

Final Anxiety Disorders Quiz

Question

Is PTSD a type of anxiety disorder?

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Answer

Yes, it is considered a severe form of anxiety disorder. 

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Question

What are some symptoms of having an anxiety disorder?

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Answer

Feeling a sense of danger, sweating, trouble concentrating. 

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Is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) different from other anxiety disorders?


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Answer

Because the fear and worry are so excessive, people with GAD experience difficulties in conducting even simple tasks. Their symptoms are severe and present in their social interactions, work-related issues, or daily routines.

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Question

What are some symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

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Answer

Problems falling asleep or staying asleep

Muscle tension

Difficulty controlling worry

Problems concentrating

Fatigue

Show question

Question

What are some possible risk factors or causes of anxiety disorder?


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Answer

A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in other family members.

Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events, especially in early childhood.

Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias.

Show question

Question

How is PTSD different from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)?

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Answer

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder brought on by extreme factors. In this case, a person often has experienced severe violence or a terrifying event.

Show question

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What are some symptoms of PTSD?


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Negative thoughts of the world or even of themselves.

Feelings of guilt or blaming themselves for the events.

Trouble remembering portions of the traumatic event.

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Question

What are the two main ways to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders?

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Answer

Psychotherapy and medications

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Question

What is the most common type of psychotherapy chosen to help those with an anxiety disorder?

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Answer

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

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What are two medications mostly chosen to help treat symptoms of an anxiety disorder?


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Benzodiazepines and anti-depressants

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Question

True or False

Benzodiazepines work slowly and have a period of trial and error to find the best dosage amount.

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Answer

False. Benzodiazepines work quickly and are used for short-term help.

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True or False

Anti-depressants are used to treat symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. 

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True

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True or False

Group therapy has been shown to have adverse effects and is not helpful for those with an anxiety disorder. 

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Answer

False. Shared experiences in group therapy are very helpful.

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Which two types of anti-depressants are usually chosen for symptoms of anxiety disorders?


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Antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

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Which medication in treating anxiety disorder is fast-acting?


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Benzodiazepines

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Question

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder? 

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Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neuropsychiatric disorder that includes obsessions and compulsions. 

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Is obsessive-compulsive disorder the same as obsessive-compulsive personality disorder? 

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No

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What are the current treatments used for OCD? 

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SSRI and CBT

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Should low dose or high dose SSRI be used in the treatment for OCD? 

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Answer

High Dose

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What other serotonin modulating medication may be useful in the treatment of OCD

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Answer

Clomipramine 

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What antipsychotic medication has been shown to be helpful in OCD?

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Answer

Risperidone

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Question

Thinking your family will die is an example of a 

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Obsession

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The purpose of compulsions is to 

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Attenuate the feelings of anxiety that stem from obsessions. 

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Washing your hands 10 times in a row is an example of a

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Answer

Compulsion.

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How many major criteria are there in the diagnosis of OCD?

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4

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Question

OCD may follow a strep throat infection (T/F). 

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Answer

True

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The syndrome for OCD post strep infection is known as

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Answer

PANDAS

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What are the JONES criteria? 

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JOINT PAIN 

Rheumatic Heart Disease

Nodules 

Erythema Marginatum 

Sydenham's Chorea. 

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What does CSTC stand for?

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Answer

Corticostriatethalammocortical circuit

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Question

Certain genetics play a role in the ____.

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Answer

Early development of OCD.

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Panic Disorder is defined as _________.

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A form of anxiety disorder that is based on the frequency of panic attacks.

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The two types of panic attacks are __________ and __________.

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Expected and Unexpected 

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True or False: All panic attacks have a known cause. 

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Fasle

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Which type of panic attack has a known trigger?

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Expected panic attacks

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A technique that cognitive-behavioral therapists use to eliminate a patient's avoidance behaviors is called ____________.

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Answer

Desensitization

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A form of psychotherapy that has been used to treat panic disorder is ____________. 

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Answer

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

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True or False: Medication can be used to help treat panic disorder. 

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Answer

True

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Which of the following is not a physical symptom of panic disorder?

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Auditory hallucinations

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The fear of being in a situation or place where one can not escape and help is not available is called ____________.

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Agoraphobia

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This type of therapy believes that a person's actions and behaviors are directly influenced by their thoughts or feelings.

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Answer

Cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

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Which medications are often used to treat panic disorder? 

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Answer

Antidepressants and benzodiazepines 

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Question

Define generalized anxiety disorder.

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Answer

Generalized anxiety disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person experiences a chronic state of diffuse and autonomic nervous system arousal, even when there is little to no reason to worry.

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Which of the following is not a physical symptom of generalized anxiety disorder?

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Trouble staying awake

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Which of the following is not a cognitive symptom of generalized anxiety disorder?

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Hyper-concentration

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What are some ways GAD can present in children?


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  • Perfectionism

  • Worry about school performance or sporting event

  • Excessive worry about being on time

  • Spending a lot of time on homework

  • A constant need for reassurance about performance

  • Lack confidence

  • Frequent stomach aches

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True or False?  Individuals with GAD have a more difficult time with emotional regulation as well as understanding their own emotions

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True

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True or False? Constant caffeine or tobacco use, as well as other drug or alcohol misuse, has little to no affect on the onset of GAD. 


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False

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A person must experience constant worry for at least ________ in order to make a diagnosis. 

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Answer

6 months

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___________ refers to the presence of more than one mental health or medical disorder in a patient.


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Comorbid

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Question

This common symptom is unique to depression and can help differentiate it from anxiety. 

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Answer

Anhedonia (lack of pleasure)

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