Anxiety Disorders (A guide +PDF)

The present blogspot will be based on “what is an anxiety disorder?”. It will discuss the diagnostic criteria of anxiety disorders, its associated features, the differential diagnosis of anxiety disorders, and the various types of disorders that come under the umbrella term of anxiety disorders along the various treatment options that exist for the anxiety disorder.

What is an anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorder is a cluster of mental disorders that is centered around the exaggerated feelings of apprehension, fear and worry and associated behaviors.

The anxiety disorder marks out the feelings of insecurities and fear  that are hard to manage by the individual and significantly impair the individual’s adaptive functioning along with disturbances in the personal, social and occupational domains.

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The anxiety that gets associated with anxiety disorder is basically an excessive worry about future events and a generally more prolonged feeling of fear that accompanies the person most times of the day.

The most significant symptoms of anxiety disorder are :

  • Physical symptoms
  • Cognitive symptoms
  • Chest pain
  • Pounding heart
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Decreased concentration level
  • Disturbed focus
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Muscular spasms
  • Lethargy
  • Joint pain or other somatic complaints

Generally the word anxiety and fear are used as synonyms for each other. However researchers and clinicians have distinguished both the terms from each other. According to the World Health Organization (2009) anxiety is an unpleasant emotional  state that results from an unidentified or difficult to manage situation or event. Whereas fear is defined as an emotional and physiological response to a stimuli (external threat).

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What are the associated features of anxiety disorder?

The associated features of anxiety disorder include:

  • Low self esteem makes an individual vulnerable to excessive worry and fear related to daily life events.
  • Low socialization skills makes an individual prone to get anxious in social settings or in situations where they need to interact with a group of people.
  • Childhood abuse results in insecurities related to self. Any form of abuse in childhood like emotional, sexual, physical or neglect on the part of the parents is linked to a greater risk of anxiety disorder in later life.
  • Trauma in early life leaves a lasting impact on individuals. It leaves the child feeling less competent about himself/herself. They have trust issues in later life and are unable to share their true feelings with anyone.
  • A history of mental health disorders including depression and other mood disorders makes a person more prone to anxiety disorders in later life.
  • Negative life events and unhealthy coping mechanisms make a person more prone to anxiety disorder in later life.
  • Temperamental traits like introvert, close to self attitude and shyness are predispositional factors for anxiety disorders
  • Any physical ailments or illnesses that break an individual’s sense of self or shatter their self image are predispositional factors for anxiety disorders.

What is the diagnosis of anxiety disorder?

Anxiety disorder is diagnosed by ruling out any associated mental conditions or medical disorders. Anxiety at times could be due to high blood pressure only.

A doctor after administering the tests for ruling out any physical or medical conditions refers the person to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. 

A psychiatrist diagnoses the individual based on the symptoms with a tentative diagnosis of anxiety disorder and further refers  to a psychologist for psychometric testing and confirmation of diagnosis.

What are the various disorders related to anxiety disorder in DSM-V?

The various disorders that come under anxiety disorder are :

  • Generalized anxiety disorder is defined as a feeling of constant and unidentified worry that is persistent and is way too excessive for its cause.
  • Panic disorder is a panic disorder based on panic attack. A panic attack is a condition where the individual feels like having a cardiac arrest. The panic attack is characterized by excessive chest pain, sweating, pounding heart and palpitations. The individuals feel like choking.
  • Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia.  Individuals with this disorder feel excessive anxiety in managing their routine social life and are fearful of everyday social life activities. They have an underlying fear associated with being criticised, evaluated or judged by others. For example fear of airplanes. If you’re fear of airplanes, you might use sedatives for Airplane Anxiety. Also, check the Best Airlines for Anxiety and things to take for airplane anxiety,
  • Specific phobias are defined as excessive and intense feelings of fear associated with a single object. Like some people might feel fearful from spiders or aeroplanes. The feeling of fear in specific phobia is much exaggerated then the  actual fear related to the object. 
  • Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder related to an underlying fear of getting caught in a closed space or unable to get help after getting caught.
  • Selective mutism is an anxiety disorder with children and kids. It is usually characterized when kids who otherwise speak normal, keep quiet or remain silent at school, in parties or at gatherings.  If your child is struggling with anxiety, get one of these cuties home for them to have as a pet.
  • Separation anxiety is an excessive worry when a closed one leaves out of sight. It is more experienced by kids and toddlers. Separation anxiety involves a constant feeling of worry that something might happen to their significant other.

What are the various treatment options available for anxiety disorders?

The various treatment disorders for anxiety disorders are :

  • Medications usually have a good prognosis for people with anxiety disorders. Antidepressants, bupropion, benzodiazepines, beta blockers and anticonvulsants are some of the most frequently used medications for anxiety disorders. 
  • Counseling is another treatment option that facilitates the individual through a solution focused approach. Counseling also has a good prognosis for people with anxiety disorders. 
  • Psychotherapy is an excellent treatment option for people with anxiety disorders that are an effect of underlying personality issues or childhood events. Psychotherapy usually takes more sessions and is based on various techniques and interventions to restructure the personality.  It utilizes cognitive behavior therapy and psychodynamic techniques to resolve the conflicts that are a source of anxiety disorder. The prognosis of using psychotherapy as a treatment option for anxiety disorder is excellent.
  • Symptom management through mindfulness and psychoeducation is also a treatment option for anxiety disorder. Individuals try to understand their triggers and manage them. They also use mindfulness techniques to overcome their unpleasant emotional states related to constant worry.


The present blogspot discussed the various aspects of anxiety disorders. We learned that anxiety disorder has various other disorders that are related to a feeling of constant worry and fear. The anxiety in anxiety disorder is way much exaggerated to its cause. We discussed the associated features of anxiety disorder and the associated disorders. We also learned the various treatment options available for anxiety disorders.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Anxiety Disorders

What criteria is used to diagnose anxiety?

According to the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders -5, the anxiety disorders include disorders that have the features of excessive constant worry, fear and negative apprehensions with associated behavioral disturbances.

What are the anxiety disorders present in DSM-5?

The 5 anxiety disorders present in DSM-5 include:

Panic attack
Specific phobia
Social phobia
Generalized anxiety disorder
Selective Mutism
Separation Anxiety Disorder

What is NOS anxiety disorder?

NOS anxiety disorder is used in the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders – 5. The term NOS stands for not otherwise specified. The NOS anxiety disorder is used to diagnose individuals who present symptoms closely related to anxiety disorders but do not meet the full criteria of any anxiety disorder.


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