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Approximately 42 Million Americans Live with Anxiety Disorders*

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panic attack word cloudTo commemorate Mental Illness Awareness Week, TFI Talks is focusing on the definitions, symptoms, diagnoses and treatment of a variety of mental illnesses. Today’s post focuses on Anxiety Disorders.


Everyone feels anxiety or panic at one time or another. Anxiety and panic are natural responses that help us cope with danger or threats. But when anxiety or panic occurs at levels out of proportion to the danger, or when they have an adverse affect on daily living, there may be an anxiety or panic disorder.

Anxiety and Panic Disorders Include:

  • Worry & tension
  • Panic/anxiety attacks
  • Social anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Obsessions & compulsions
  • Phobias

Those who suffer from these disorders often find it difficult to be in situations that most people consider routine – for example, driving, shopping, attending a party or just walking down a crowded sidewalk.

Anxiety and Panic Disorder Terms & Definitions:

  • A Panic Attack is a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety. Physical symptoms may include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, difficulty breathing and/or sweating.
  • Panic Disorder includes a frequent occurrence of unexpected panic attacks and excessive worry about having panic attacks.
  • Agoraphobia is the persistent avoidance of situations that could trigger panic attacks. Common examples include avoiding crowds, driving, shopping, being alone or being far from home or a hospital.
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves excessive worrying. Other symptoms include muscle tension, restlessness, irritability, difficulty concentrating and the feeling of being keyed up or on edge.
  • Specific Phobia is the exaggerated fear of a specific situation or objects. Even though a person may recognize that his or her fear is excessive, the situation or object is still avoided. Common phobias include the fear of dogs, flying, heights, blood or injections.
  • Social Phobia is the excessive fear of being observed by, criticized or embarrassed in front of others. People with social phobias exhibit excessive dread and try to avoid situations such as public speaking, eating in front of others and going to parties.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is when a person has recurrent, distressing thoughts or ritualized behavior such as excessive hand washing. People with obsessive-compulsive disorders are often aware that the behavior is unreasonable.
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a preoccupation with one or more perceived defects or flaws in one’s physical appearance. Although these perceived flaws are not observable to others, the individual feels driven to perform excessive, repetitive behaviors or mental acts in response to the appearance concerns.
  • Hair-pulling/Trichotillomania is the recurrent pulling out of one’s hair that then results in noticeable bald patches.
  • Skin-picking/Excoriation is recurrent skin picking that results in skin lesions.
  • Health Anxiety is an excessive preoccupation with having or acquiring a serious illness. Although somatic symptoms are not present or, if are present, are mild, the individual experiences a high level of anxiety about his or her health and performs health-related behaviors, such as repeatedly checking for signs of illness, or exhibits maladaptive avoidance.


The Family Institute’s Anxiety and Panic Program treats these disorders and issues. Visit our website to learn more.

*Statistic from the National Alliance on Mental Health

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