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Anxiety Disorders - What Are They and What Causes Them?

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Anxiety is part of life; everyone feels it to one degree or another during their lives. However, when that feeling of anxiety starts to take over your life, or is persistent beyond a certain time in our lives (e.g. a speech in class) then a person may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme distress, persistent anxiety, or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety.

There are four common types of anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Phobias, and Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Each disorder is characterized by a set of common symptoms and can be caused by different things.

The Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

A generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by feelings of edginess, continual tense and jittery feelings, worry, muscular tension, agitation, and sleeplessness. Those feelings may make themselves known to the outside world through furrowed brows, twitches, sweating, and fidgeting. A person suffering from this disorder may find it difficult to concentrate on their day to day lives, their attention is constantly diverted to a large variety of worries.

Panic Disorder

A panic disorder is characterized by a feeling of intense dread. A panic disorder makes itself known suddenly through panic attacks. A panic attack takes place over the span of a couple of minutes and is characterized by an intense feeling of fear, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, choking sensations, trembling, or dizziness. The bodies false alarm is a completely unpredictable experience that can cause a person to begin to fear, fear itself and to avoid locations where that panic may have occurred in the past. This extreme reaction is wat develops into a panic disorder.

Phobias

A phobia is a feeling of intense fear directed at a certain object, activity, or situation. Phobias are irrational fears that can disrupt a persons daily activities. Most people can accept and live with certain phobias but there are some that are incapacitating, such as fears of heights, of certain types of weather, of social situations, or of certain animal or insect life.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder

An obsessive-compulsive disorder may at first seem to fit the entire population. At one time or another every single one of us finds ourselves obsessed with something, be it cleaning, rechecking locked doors, or organizing. However, an obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by taking those symptoms and pushing them to extremes. When obsessive thoughts and feelings become so persistent that they interfere in the way a person lives, then they may be an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The Explanations

Psychoanalytic

The Psychoanalytic explanation for anxiety disorders is based on Freud's personality theory. Freud said that there are three sides to the personality, the id, ego, and superego. The id is the inborn personality and is the source of desires and wishes. The ego is the conscious personality and where we find contact with the real world. The superego is the source of morals.

The id is where you generally find the forbidden sexual and aggressive urges. In a socialized person those urges have been repressed. However, those urges want to break through and be acted on. An individual can sense this inner struggled, and anxiety is their inner alarm system warning them to be aware of what is going on. Anxiety however is often experienced as a threat

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