Anxiety is a natural human reaction to perceived danger. Under normal circumstances, anxiety is a useful emotion that helps us to identify situations that could be dangerous so that we can either avoid or prepare for them. In anxiety disorders, however, anxiety becomes excessive and causes unnecessary suffering.
Anxiety Disorders: Mental health care providers in North America use a book called the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (commonly called the DSM-IV) to define different anxiety disorders, each of which has a characteristic set of symptoms. If a person’s symptoms fit the description of a particular anxiety disorder in the DSM-IV, then they are given a diagnosis of that disorder. The main anxiety disorders in the DSM-IV are as follows:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Panic Disorder (anxiety attacks)
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Separation Anxiety Disorder
Prominent researchers in the field of anxiety such as David Barlow and Michelle Craske believe that all of these disorders follow the same patterns and may be treated by applying similar principles (see the book by David Barlow, PhD, Unified Protocol for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders).
Causes of Anxiety: While sometimes it is obvious what causes anxiety, sometimes it can seem as though the anxiety comes out of nowhere. For people suffering from an anxiety disorder, not knowing where their anxiety comes from can cause them to feel out of control and actually lead to more anxiety. Thus, one of the keys to treating anxiety is identifying its triggers. Our ABCtracker™ can help you indentify the causes of your anxiety and create a personalized program to target your specific fears.
Anxiety is caused by a combination of genetic sensitivity and stressful experiences that can lead to Alarm (emotions and physical sensations), inaccurate Beliefs, and ineffective Coping strategies. Sometimes anxiety may also be cause by biological agents such as alcohol, drugs, or even prescription medicine. This site will provide you with the latest scientific information on anxiety and its treatment.