Anxiety disorders are categorized into different types that include the following:  panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, social phobia or social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, target phobias, and general anxiety disorder.

Anxiety is part of life.  New experiences and challenges, making important decisions, or standing in front of an audience can make people feel anxious or nervous.  These are all normal human reactions.  By contrast, however, an anxiety disorder prevents an individual from fully living and experiencing life.  The worry and fear experienced with a panic disorder takes control of an individual’s life.

What are the Most Common Types of Anxiety Disorders?

Panic Disorder The fear associated with a panic disorder attacks unexpectedly and invisibly.  Common symptoms associated with an attack of panic include the following:  sweats, dry mouth, difficulty breathing or hyperventilation, rapid heart beat, palpitations, and an irrational fear of completely losing control or consciousness.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Signs of PTSD are flashbacks of experiences from traumatic events in the past such as a physical/sexual assault, an automobile accident, a devastating act of nature, or the shock of unexpectedly losing a loved one.  Even more important than the actual event is the message or belief that the event creates in the mind about you, others, and the world.

Social Anxiety Disorder People with a social anxiety disorder project an overwhelming amount of worry and stress into common social situations such as dinner engagements, visiting the in-laws, or attending a huge sports arena filled with thousands of people.  The fear of being judged, laughed at, ridiculed, or have some kind of accident is so excessive that the fear can actually be self-fulfilling and crippling.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder People with OCD struggle with known and unknown fears that intrude mentally as penetrating and obsessive thoughts that cause the individual to carefully perform repetitive behaviors in a ritualized and compulsive manner.  Taken together, these thoughts and behaviors create a prison-like structure that must be repeated consistently for an individual to function and maintain mental balance.

Target Phobias Target phobias single out an object, situation, or place to avoid such as snakes, riding in an airplane, or getting on the freeway.  The experience of fear with target phobias is so oppressive that in most cases the individual will consciously choose to avoid it if at all possible.

General Anxiety Disorder Worry and stress escalate to irrational levels in the absence of any immediate factor that can be viewed as causally related to the effect.

What are the Most Common Symptoms?

  • Generalized fear, tension
  • Repetitive and annoying thoughts that won’t stop
  • Flashbacks or memories of painful, frightening, or traumatizing experiences in the past
  • Sleep disturbances, bizarre dreams
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sweats
  • Cardiac irregularities
  • Light-headedness, dizziness
  • Low back pain, migraine
  • Loss of composure, heightened defensiveness
  • Feelings of entrapment, of not being able to move beyond the situation or the moment

Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

The first step begins with the decision to get help.  Begin with a primary medical doctor to rule out the possibility that symptoms of anxiety have an underlining physical cause.  If no sign of physical illness is present, the physician will most likely refer the patient to a mental health care professional specifically trained to help with this condition.

Medication Used to Treat Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be effectively treated with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, Luvox, and Viibryd.  Other drugs used to treat anxiety include the benzodiazepine family of drugs such as Valium, Ativan, and Xanax.  Benzodiazepines are highly addictive and should not be used for long-term treatment.  Drug interaction and side effects of benzodiazepines include drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and irritability.

Other Methods of Coping with Anxiety Disorders

Coping with anxiety means that you start taking control of your life again by challenging beliefs and responses to matters at hand.  Start by asking yourself a few questions.  As an example, “How can I be more effective and in control in this particular situation?”  “What is my part and what is God’s part?”  “How can I change how I respond to the situation I am in?”  “Am I willing to grow, be stretched a little, with the end goal of being a stronger, more independent, and self-confident individual?”

When negative, brooding thoughts create the experience of being in a dark tunnel with no escape in sight, don’t just sit there and start sinking into a hole.  Challenge the source of the negative thought or idea.  If we accept or absorb negative beliefs or project negative outcomes, regardless of the source, the world we live in is directly impacted.  There are few things in this life that we actually control outside of ourselves.  We do, however, have complete control over what we choose to think and believe.  Decide for yourself what benefit you are deriving from accepting negative beliefs.  Is your future filled with hope or despair?  Some fears have doors to the past that need to be closed.  There is a way to step free from the devourer called fear.  Stand up to it.  Make your peace as best you can.  Ask for forgiveness, and then forgive yourself.  When you have done everything that can possibly be done, just stand.  Stand.

Panic Disorder Treatment

Panic disorder, characterized by chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress may be mistaken for a heart attack, and left untreated, panic disorders on their own can lead to self-destructive behavior and create harmful consequences in anyone with an existing substance abuse problem. Addressing a panic disorder as part of an integrated treatment for drug or alcohol dependence increases the chance for a successful recovery.

Dual Diagnosis of Panic Disorder and Dependence

Because mental health disorders can reduce a client’s chances for successful drug and alcohol dependence recovery, Burning Tree evaluates every client for possible mental health issues. A dual diagnosis of a panic disorder and dependence could explain why the client’s previous attempts at sobriety were unsuccessful. Once the dual diagnosis has been established, a suitable integrated treatment plan for both the panic disorder and the drug or alcohol dependence can be created.