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Anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders, along with depression, are among the most common mental health conditions. Over the course of a lifetime, one in five to six individuals will experience an anxiety disorder.

There are various types of anxiety disorders that fall under the spectrum of anxiety-related conditions. They all share a focus on fears or apprehensions and typically involve a pronounced need for control and safety, which can exacerbate the symptoms:

  • Specific phobias involve persistent or intense fear of certain situations or objects. For example, individuals may fear heights (acrophobia), spiders (arachnophobia), or flying (aviophobia or "fear of flying"). Additionally, they may experience significant fear of being in public alone or in crowds (agoraphobia). Essentially, any situation or object can become a phobic stimulus, causing substantial disruptions in daily life.

  • Social anxiety is characterized by the fear of participating in social or performance-related situations, often combined with apprehensions of failure, negative evaluation, or ridicule for unique traits. The fear of being exposed as inadequate can also fall under social anxiety.

  • Generalized anxiety disorder describes conditions where individuals no longer fear specific situations or objects but instead suffer from a generalized, pervasive sense of anxiety or worry that encompasses various anxiety-inducing stimuli. For instance, fears may include the well-being of one's children, fear of impoverishment, anxiety about an uncertain future, concerns about suffering from a serious illness, and various other worries that may alternate and reinforce one another.

  • Panic attacks and panic disorder are primarily characterized by sudden and unpredictable states of intense fear that can escalate to a sense of impending doom and are often accompanied by severe physical discomfort. Panic attacks can lead to emergency medical calls due to the overwhelming experience of anxiety symptoms. Specific phobias, such as agoraphobia, may occur more frequently in connection with panic attacks and panic disorder, particularly when the panic occurs unexpectedly in public situations and timely assistance is not readily available.

  • Trauma-related disorders are also marked by the primary emotion of intense fear. However, further information on this subject is available on our own page dedicated to trauma-related disorders.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized on a symptomatic level by either recurring intrusive thoughts (obsessions) or ritualized actions that must be performed (compulsions). The connection to other anxiety disorders lies in the fact that OCD is typically underpinned by fear or apprehension. For example, fears of contamination, concerns about harming loved ones, or worries about behaving obscenely in public are just a few examples of how OCD can burden individuals.

 

Anxiety disorders can manifest in diverse ways. While some individuals can explicitly pinpoint what they are anxious about ("I'm afraid to get on a plane because I fear it will crash"), others may experience anxiety through intense physical symptoms that are often acutely experienced in anxiety disorders without being directly related to a specific anxiety-inducing stimulus. As such, a specialized diagnosis that precisely pinpoints the core of the present symptomatology is indispensable for initiating appropriate treatment options.

The impact of anxiety disorders on individuals' lives can vary significantly. For instance, a fear of direct contact with birds may make a visit to a busy shopping area with pigeons flying around uncomfortable, but it might not cause clinically significant distress. On the other hand, a person required to give presentations or travel suddenly for work and experiencing social phobia or fear of flying may face a dramatic decline in their level of functioning. Therefore, during the treatment of an anxiety disorder, we work together with you to explore what it must achieve to enable what is meaningful to you in your life.

Treatment for anxiety disorders using evidence-based and guideline-compliant psychotherapeutic methods is highly effective and well-suited for outpatient care

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