Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
A severe, chronic, exaggerated worrying about everyday events is the most common symptom in people with GAD. This is a worrying that lasts for at least six months, makes it difficult to concentrate and to carry out routine activities, and happens for many hours each day in some people. Some people with this disorder anticipate the worst and often experience physical symptoms of fatigue, tension, headaches and nausea due to the severity of their anxiety.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
People with OCD have upsetting thoughts (obsessions) that cause anxiety. They do things over and over again (compulsions) to control the anxiety these thoughts cause. Often the rituals end up controlling the person. For example, someone with OCD may relock their door many times before going to bed. Or, a person with OCD may wash their hands over and over again because the person is afraid of getting sick. While it is good to wash your hands before eating or after using the bathroom, a person with OCD may wash their hands hundreds of times a day.
Panic disorder is a real illness that can be successfully treated. It is characterized by sudden attacks of terror, usually accompanied by a pounding heart, sweatiness, weakness, faintness, or dizziness. During these attacks, people with panic disorder may flush or feel chilled; their hands may tingle or feel numb; and they may experience nausea, chest pain, or smothering sensations. Panic attacks usually produce a sense of unreality, a fear of impending doom, or a fear of losing control.
A fear of one’s own unexplained physical symptoms is also a symptom of panic disorder. People having panic attacks sometimes believe they are having heart attacks, losing their minds, or on the verge of death. They can’t predict when or where an attack will occur, and between episodes many worry intensely and dread the next attack. Panic attacks can occur at any time, even during sleep. An attack usually peaks within 10 minutes, but some symptoms may last much longer.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
When people experience or witness a traumatic event such as abuse, a natural disaster, or extreme violence, it is normal to be distressed and to feel “on edge” for some time after this experience. Some people who experience traumatic events have severe symptoms such as nightmares, flashbacks, being very easily startled or scared, or feeling numb/angry/irritable/distracted. Sometimes these symptoms last for weeks or even months after the event and are so severe that they make it difficult for a person to work, have loving relationships, or “return to normal.” This is when a person may be suffering from PTSD. Many people with PTSD have difficulty discussing their symptoms because they may be too embarrassed or scared to recall their trauma. In the local context, this is common in victims of road traffic accidents and physical assaults.
Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)
Social phobia, also called social anxiety disorder, is diagnosed when people become very anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. People with social phobia have a strong fear of being watched and judged by others. They embarrass easily.
Social phobia can happen in one kind of situation, such as talking to people, eating or drinking, or writing on a blackboard in front of others. Or, it may be so broad that the person experiences anxiety around almost anyone other than family members.
Although studies suggest that people are more likely to have an anxiety disorder if their parents have anxiety disorders, it has not been shown whether biology or environment plays the greater role in the development of these disorders. Some anxiety disorders have a very clear genetic link (e.g., OCD) that is being studied by scientists to help discover new treatments to target specific parts of the brain. Some anxiety disorders can also be caused by medical illnesses. Other anxiety disorders can be caused by brain injury.