The basic types of anxiety disorders… panic attacks, compulsive obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobic anxiety disorders

Anxiety is a normal, protective physiological response to an unpleasant or threatening situation. Anxiety makes you take action and mild to moderate anxiety even improves performance and ensures appropriate action is taken. However, excessive or prolonged anxiety is not good as it is disabling and distressing, causing physical symptoms to appear causing illness.

The term “anxiety disorder” encompasses a variety of succinct conditions but is different to normal physiological anxiety in that the symptoms must be prolonged, cause significant distress and impair social or daily functioning.

Anxiety disorders are broadly divided into:

  1. generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), 
  2. panic disorder, 
  3.  specific phobias,
  4.  post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  5.  and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Panic disorder.(panic attacks.)

This is a recurrent episode of severe anxiety (panic attacks). A panic attack may even occur several times a day.It is so unpleasant that most patients then develop a fear of repeat attacks or the implications of an attack. A common scenario is in agoraphobia (fear in enclosed places or situations from which escape might be difficult). 

Specific phobia anxiety

Marked and out of proportion fear that is excessive or unrealistic, precipitated by the presence (or anticipation) of a specific object or situation (e.g., going to the dentist). Sufferers avoid the situation such e.g., avoid the dentist even if they have acute pulpitis. 

Obsessive compulsive disorder

The person has strong thoughts, impulses or images that are intrusive and cause distress. They find it impossible to deal with these thoughts, impulses or images.

The person attempts to get rid of these obsessions by completing repetitive, time- consuming behaviours or actions (compulsions). Common obsessions include “fear of getting germs” and the compulsion may be repetitive hand cleaning and house cleaning. These patients will avoid the dentist as they think they will pick up something.