Anxiety Disorders: disruptive feelings of "fear," apprehension, or "anxiety," or distortions in behavior that are anxiety related. (Coon, 527)

Disorders in which extreme anxiety is the main diagnostic feature and causes significant disruptions in the person’s "cognitive,"  "behavioral," or interpersonal function. (Hockenbury, 512) The most common of adult mental disorders. (Cardwell, 15) Characterized by 2 major types of symptoms. ‘Subjective symptoms’ consist of the subject’s experiences of anxiety. ‘Objective symptoms’ are observable signs of physiological arousal. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Editor's note - examples include ‘phobia,’  ‘post-traumatic stress disorder,’ and ‘obsessive-compulsive disorder.’


Fear Disorders: (anxiety disorders) clustered together based on the similarities of panic attacks. Disorders in which the (body’s) natural reaction to fear has gotten out of control. (Rose, Episode 4 Kerry Ressler) We know more about the biology of fear than of any other emotion. We know more about the disorders of fear than any other psychiatric disorder. (Rose, Episode 4 Eric Kandel)

Acute Stress Disorder: an anxiety disorder precipitated by an experience of intense fear or horror while exposed to a traumatic (especially life-threatening) event. The disorder is characterized by “dissociative” symptoms; vivid recollections of the traumatic event; avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event; and a constant state of hyper-arousal for no more than one month. (NCIt)

Panic Disorder: characterized by relatively short, intermittent periods of intense anxiety. The intense anxiety and fear may reach the point of panic. (Bamford, 10/25/10) An anxiety disorder in which the person experiences frequent and unexpected episodes of extreme anxiety that rapidly escalate in intensity. These “panic attack” episodes occur frequently and unexpectedly. (Hockenbury, 513) Often quite unpredictable attacks that involve a very wide range of symptoms, including heart palpitations, chest pains, dizziness, labored breathing, intense apprehension and a feeling of unreality. These short-lived attacks tend to occur frequently, and are sometimes linked to specific situations. (Cardwell, 174) 

Catastrophic Cognitions Theory: tendency to misinterpret the physical signs of "arousal" as catastrophic and dangerous. (Hockenbury, 513) Also referred to as ‘cognitive-behavioral theory of panic disorder.’

Panic Attack: a sudden episode of extreme anxiety that rapidly escalates in intensity. (Hockenbury, 513) An episode of intense fear accompanied by symptoms such as heart palpitations, sweating and chills or hot flushes , a sensation of dyspnea, chest pain, abdominal distress, depersonalization, fear of going crazy, and fear of dying. (NCIt)

Phobic Disorders: a persistent and unreasonable fear of an object or situation. A phobic disorder differs from a normal non-phobic fear in that it is more intense, and there is a compelling desire to avoid the object of the fear. (Cardwell, 182) A strong or irrational fear of something, usually a specific object or situation, that does not necessarily interfere with the ability to function in daily life. (Hockenbury, 151) The individual may be fearful of enclosed spaces, heights, spiders, crowds, etc. (Bamford, 10/25/10) Also referred to as ‘phobias.’

Agoraphobia: fear of public places. Often accompanied by a panic attack when the sufferer enters crowded streets, shopping centers, public transport and so on. (Cardwell, 7) An anxiety disorder involving the extreme and irrational fear of experiencing a panic attack in a public situation and being unable to get help. (Hockenbury, 515) Often, the behavior of the individual becomes increasingly more constricted as he avoids situations, and may become completely housebound. (Bamford, 10/25/10)

Social Phobias: fear of potentially embarrassing social situations such as having to give a speech or eating in public. (Cardwell, 183) The extreme and irrational fear of being embarrassed, judged, or scrutinized by others in social situations. The most prevalent anxiety disorder. More women than men experience social phobia. (Hockenbury, 151) Also referred to as ‘social anxiety disorders.’ 

Taijin Kyofusho: a form of social anxiety that usually affects young Japanese males. (Hockenbury, 515)

Specific Phobias: characterized by an extreme and irrational fear of a specific object or situation that interferes with the ability to function in daily life. People with this disorder may be terrified of a particular object or situation. (Hockenbury, 515) For example,  ‘arachnophobia’ (fear of spiders), or ‘aerophobia’ (fear of flying.) (Cardwell, 183) Also referred to as ‘simple phobia.’ 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): a chronic state of tension and worry about work, relationships, ability, or impending disaster. (Coon, 543) Persistent, chronic, unreasonable worry and anxiety. General symptoms of anxiety, including persistent physical arousal. People with this disorder are constantly tense and anxious. They feel anxious about a wide range of life circumstances. Normally, anxiety quickly dissipates when a threatening situation is resolved. In GAD however, when one source of worry is removed, another quickly moves in to take its place. The anxiety can be characterized as ‘free-floating’ because it can be attached to virtually any object. (Hockenbury, 512, 519) Hard to separate from “depression.” (Rose, Episode 4 Kerry Ressler) Also referred to as ‘free-floating anxiety,’ and ‘anxiety-neurosis.’

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): an anxiety disorder in which the symptoms of anxiety are triggered by intrusive, repetitive thoughts and urges to perform certain actions. (Hockenbury, 517) Characterized by excessive intrusive and inappropriate “obsessions” or “compulsions.” The person’s mind is filled with persistent and uncontrollable thoughts which they attempt to control through repetitive behaviors. (Cardwell, 168) Obsessions can center on cleanliness and the avoidance of dirt or germs, counting, or checking. The compulsive behavior can be displayed as repetitive cleaning (repeatedly washing one’s hands or brushing one’s teeth), repetitive counting, or repetitive checking (checking and rechecking locks, ovens, etc.) The individual recognizes the senselessness of the repetition, but is unable to control the repetitive behavior. (Bamford, 10/25/10) A deficiency in “serotonin” has been implicated (as a possible cause.) Dysfunction in the “frontal lobes” and the “caudate nucleus” have been linked (to OCD). (Hockenbury, 519)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): a long-lasting disorder that develops in response to an extreme physical or psychological trauma. (Hockenbury, 516) Triggered by exposure to “traumatic” events. “Traumas” beyond the normal experiences of day-to-day living. Individuals experience nightmares, and are plagued by intrusive memories of the horrific event. Individuals often experience apprehension and wariness, and are over-sensitive to normal environmental stimuli. (Bamford, 10/25/10) The symptoms begin shortly after the event and may last for months or even years. (Cardwell, 189) With PTSD the body's response to a stressful event is changed. Normally, after the event the body recovers. The stress hormones and chemicals the body releases due to the stress go back to normal levels. For some reason in a person with PTSD the body keeps releasing the stress hormones and chemicals. PTSD can occur at any age. It can occur after events such as assault, car accidents, natural disasters, rape, terrorism, and war. (PubMedHealth2)