Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
GAD causes chronic worry and symptoms such as muscle aches, insomnia, headaches, stomachaches, irritability, or feeling tired or mildly ill. GAD frequently co-occurs with other anxiety or mood disorders. Often times, people believe that their worry may have some value in protecting their safety, the safety of others, or may assist in achieving high standards at work or in school.
Social Anxiety Disorder
People with social anxiety disorder feel embarrassment, shame, or humiliation because they fear that others are noticing and judging them in social situations. These individuals may blush easily, tremble, have panic attacks, or cry when faced with uncomfortable social situations. Social anxiety disorder may affect just a few situations such as fear of public speaking or fear of using the public restroom (paruresis) or may affect almost all social situations, making it painful for someone to interact with all but their best friend and immediate family members. Social anxiety disorder can result in avoidance that makes attending classes, shopping, dating, job hunting or greeting others at work extremely difficult.
Perinatal and Postpartum Anxiety, OCD, and Depression
New parents often experience a surge of anxiety and/or depression and even obsessive compulsive symptoms before or after the birth or adoption of a child. With arrival of a new family member comes increased responsibility, learning new skills, managing the household differently, decreased sleep, and other overwhelming situational and physical changes. It is common for many new parents to worry, feel restless, empty, lost, guilty, or on edge, have upsetting intrusive thoughts, or engage in behaviors that are avoidant or unhealthy.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD produces intrusive thoughts or images that cause anxiety. People with OCD engage in behaviors or thoughts (compulsions) to reduce or neutralize this anxiety. Most people with OCD recognize that their obsessions do not make sense, but feel compelled to do their compulsions nonetheless. Some of the more common forms of OCD are:
- fears of contamination with compulsive washing or cleaning
- distress about disorder or lack of symmetry with arranging compulsions
- fear of harming others with compulsive checking and reassurance-seeking
- perfectionism and making things “just so”
- intrusive sexual or blasphemous thoughts with situational avoidance and compulsive prayer, confessions, or reassurance-seeking
Panic disorder causes a sudden onset of physical sensations that are mistaken for signs of illness, fainting, heart attack, insanity, or impending death. The sudden onset of multiple feared physical symptoms is called a panic attack. When people with panic attacks begin to avoid situations that they believe might trigger a panic attack or may difficult to escape, they are diagnosed as having agoraphobia.
Specific phobias occur when a person develops an irrational fear of a situation or object and experiences intense fear and avoidance. Specific phobias can be about any situation or be associated with any object. Examples of typical phobias are fear of heights, needles, flying, storms, enclosed spaces, dental procedures, spiders, snakes, or vomiting.
Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors: Trichotillomania (Hair Pulling Disorder) and Excoriation Disorder (Skin Picking Disorder)
Trichotillomania results in noticeable hair loss or bald patches, whereas Excoriation Disorder results in skin lesions, infections, and scarring. Hair can be pulled, or skin picked, from any site on the body, with areas that are most easily reached being the most common sites. People who suffer from compulsive hair pulling and skin picking experience intense shame and distress. They may avoid activities that could reveal their hair loss and scabs/scars such as being outside on windy days, wearing a swimsuit, exercising, going to a hairdresser, or dating.
Other body focused repetitive behaviors (BFRBs) such as compulsive nail/cuticle biting, cheek biting, and nose picking are very similar to Trichotillomania/Excoriation Disorder and often co-occur with Trichotillomania or Excoriation Disorder.
BFRBs may be thought of as 'habits' which are qualitatively different from intentional self-injury (e.g., cutting, burning, hitting one's self). Individuals who wish to reduce any intentional self-injury behaviors are encouraged to seek a therapist who is certified in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.
Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondriasis)
People with Illness Anxiety Disorder experience intense fear about being seriously ill, despite having no medical diagnosis. These individuals misinterpret normal physical sensations and symptoms as being dangerous and life threatening. Reassurance from friends, spouses, and doctors may provide temporary relief, but the fears eventually return. People with Illness Anxiety Disorder often make many unnecessary visits to the doctor and may repeatedly undergo unnecessary medical testing and procedures. Paradoxically, some people with this disorder may end up avoiding contact with health care providers for fear that they will receive bad news.
Sleep Onset Insomnia
People with Sleep Onset Insomnia have trouble falling asleep that cannot be explained by any other medical condition. These individuals may toss and turn anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours before falling asleep for the night.
Sleep Maintenance Insomnia
People with Sleep Maintenance Insomnia have trouble staying asleep that cannot be explained by any other medical condition. These individuals may fall asleep without much trouble, but then wake up in the middle of the night and experience difficulty returning to sleep.
Having high personal and occupational standards is adaptive in our culture. However, many adults struggle with maladaptive perfectionism. In this case, a person's excessively high, rigid standards create extreme anxiety as well as problems at work, at home, and in relationships.