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Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can affect work, home, social life and relationships.  They can cause stress and worry not only to the sufferer but to the people around them too. We treat people with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) when their main problem is one of the following:

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD can vary in severity from very mild to severe and can take many different forms.  Some people are bothered by upsetting thoughts that they cannot get rid of no matter how hard they try; other people may find they feel compelled to wash or check things, even though logically they know there is no need.  When people are troubled by their obsessional problems they can experience very high levels of anxiety and distress, it can take up lots of time and interfere with almost every aspect of their life. 

More details about OCD are provided by NHS Choices.  Among charities that help people with OCD are OCD Action and OCD UK

Hoarding Disorder (HD)

Treatment for Hoarding Disorder is provided to help people who are living in cluttered homes. People collect large amounts of possessions for many different reasons (for example, items may be kept as they will 'come in handy some day' or because they appear beautiful, or that they must be recycled or reused) and it is very difficult for people to actually use or part with these items. Often people in cluttered homes are also suffering from other anxiety problems or  depression and they can suffer from poor physical health too. CADAT has links with the local boroughs and work closely with housing departments to ensure that people with hoarding problems are treated sensitively when access to their homes is required (for gas checks etc).

More details about Hoarding Disorder are provided by NHS Choices. Among charities that help people with Hoarding Disorder are OCD ActionOCD UK and Anxiety UK. Other support websites include Help for Hoarders

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) is a body image problem. It is defined as a preoccupation with one or more perceived defects in one’s appearance which other people may hardly notice may not believe to be important. In addition, the symptoms must also either cause significant distress or handicap.  For example, someone with BDD might avoid certain social and public situations to prevent themselves from feeling uncomfortable and worrying that people are rating them negatively. Alternatively a person may enter such situations but remain very self conscious. He or she may camouflage themselves excessively to hide their perceived defect by using heavy make up, brushing their hair in a particular way, changing their posture, or wearing heavy clothes. They may spend several hours a day thinking about their perceived defect and asking themselves questions that cannot be answered (for example, ”Why was I born this way?”, “If only my nose was straighter and smaller”) They may feel compelled to repeat certain time consuming behaviours including (i) Checking their appearance in a mirror or reflective surface; (ii) Seeking reassurance about their appearance; (iii) Checking by feeling their skin with their fingers; (iv) Cutting or combing their hair to make it “just so”; (v) Picking their skin to make it smooth (v) Comparing themselves against models in magazines or people in the street.

More details about BDD are provided by NHS Choices.  Among charities that help people with BDD are The BDD Foundation,  OCD Action, OCD UK and Anxiety UK

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD develops following exposure to one or more traumatic events. These events cause intense fear during which the individual may feel like they (or someone very close to them) are about to die or experience serious harm. Traumatic events go beyond daily stressful events and can include: physical and sexual assault; accidents and road traffic accidents; natural disasters; witnessing someone being badly injured or killed; experiencing  war and torture.

People experience a combination of the following symptoms: (i) Re-experiencing symptoms including (i) Unwanted thoughts and memories of the trauma, flashbacks, and nightmares; (ii) Avoidance symptoms such as avoiding talking about the trauma, thinking about it or feelings associated with it, and avoiding reminders of the trauma such as people, places or activities; (iii) Hyperarousal symptoms such as being overly alert or watchful and feeling jumpy.

More details about PTSD are provided by NHS Choices and the US National Center for PTSD.  Details about specialist services throughout the UK can be found at the UK Psychological Trauma Society (UKPTS).

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

SAD is an anxiety disorder in which people experience a distressing amount of anxiety whenever they are in a feared social or performance situation. A social situation is any situation that involves interacting with other people. A performance situation is a situation in which a person is concerned that what they are doing in public is being scrutinised or judged by others. Although it is normal for people to sometimes feel anxious in social situations, SAD is diagnosed when the social anxiety significantly interferes in a person's life and stops them from doing things that they would otherwise like to do.

People with SAD are concerned that they will do or say something that will be humiliating or embarrassing. They often fear that other people will see them blush, sweat, tremble or otherwise look anxious.

More details about SAD are provided by NHS Choices.  A charity in the UK helping people with SAD is SA-UK.

Panic Disorder (PD) and Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia

People with Panic Disorder have had recurrent unexpected panic attacks, are often very apprehensive about having more attacks, and may change their behaviour or lifestyle as a result of these.  Panic attacks usually come on very suddenly and reach their peak within 10 minutes. The peak generally lasts for 5-10 minutes, but it can take much longer for all the anxiety to subside. In a panic, normal fear reactions are happening at the wrong time and the body's "alarm system", which is designed to help you deal with emergencies, gets triggered off, exactly as if you were in real danger.  People are often afraid that they may collapse, lose consciousness, have a heart attack, lose control, go mad or even die. This intense fear is normally accompanied by four or more symptoms from the following: (i) palpitations or rapid heart rate; (ii) breathlessness; (iii) feeling unsteady, dizzy, light-headed or faint; (iv) trembling or shaking; (v) sweating; (vi) having a hot flush or chills; (vii) chest pain or discomfort; (viii) numbness or tingling sensations; (ix) feeling as if you or surroundings are unreal; (x) nausea or churning stomach; (xi) choking; (xii) fear of dying; (xiii) fear of  losing control or going crazy.

Panic disorder with agoraphobia is anxiety about being in places or situations for fear of having a panic attack or panicky feelings. Situations may include being away from home, queuing, travelling on public transport or using lifts. Some people avoid these situations completely. Others force themselves into feared situations, but feel anxious and panicky throughout.

More details about Panic Disorder are provided by NHS Choices.  Among the charities that help people Panic Disorders are No Panic and Anxiety UK.

Specific Phobia Disorders (eg spiders, driving, flying etc) (SP)

Specific phobia is an anxiety disorder in which there is a marked fear or avoidance of a specific object or situation.  Common examples of specific phobias include (i) The sight of blood or injury; (ii) Birds; (iii) Insects (iv) Animals; (v) Heights; (vi) Dentists; (vii) Spiders. 

The fear revolves around becoming anxious when in contact with the object or situation and immediately provokes an anxiety response or acute symptoms of panic. At this stage the person may wish to escape or avoid any contact with the object, situation or fear. On occasions life activities can become restricted because of it. The person is able to recognise the fear is exaggerated but is unable to eliminate the fear or reduce the avoidance.

More details about Specific Phobias are provided at NHS Choices

Specific Phobia of Vomit (SPOV or Emetophobia)

Emetophobia is the common name for a Specific Phobia of Vomiting (SPOV).  This is an anxiety disorder in which an individual has an overwhelming fear of vomiting whilst alone or in public.  They may also have a fear of witnessing others vomiting.  

Sufferers can experience a combination of the following: (i) Complete preoccupation with this fear; (ii) Panic; (iii) Fear of losing control; (iv) Fear of becoming very ill; (v) Fear that others will find them repulsive. As a result, people try too hard to avoid a wide range of situations or activities that they believe might increase the risk of vomiting.  This can significantly interfere in a person's life and stop them from doing things that they would otherwise like to do.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

We all worry from time to time, as if silently talking to ourselves about possible bad outcomes. Uncontrollable worry is common at times of stress, and is the central feature of Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) which is a common, chronic and disabling problem. Uncontrollable worry may be due to: (i) unhelpful mental habits which focus on threat, (ii) difficulty deliberately shifting mental focus away from threat.

More details about GAD are provided by NHS Choices.

Health Anxiety (HA)

 Health anxiety is characterised by preoccupation with a fear of developing a serious illness, or with the belief that one already has an undiagnosed serious illness.  The preoccupation persists despite medical reassurance.  Sufferers can misinterpret normal physical sensations, such as dizziness or tiredness, as evidence of a severe illness.  Common examples include (i) A headache may be misinterpreted as a brain tumour; (ii) A lump in one’s body may be misinterpreted as cancer; (iii) Feelings of unreality may be misinterpreted as a sign of schizophrenia.   Medical information from doctors, other people, the media and from the internet is also often misinterpreted.

This marked fear may cause people to try to avoid and/or distract themselves from their thoughts and feelings or to escape from or avoid situations that remind them of illness or death eg avoiding going to the doctor or reading about illness in the media.  Alternatively  people may seek repeated reassurance from friends, doctors or repeated visits to A&E Departments to find out the cause of their symptoms.  This preoccupation with health can also significantly affect relationships with family and friends as the sufferer may appear uninterested and distant.

More details on Health Anxiety are provided at NHS Choices





Anxiety Disorders can affect work, home, social life and relationships

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