What are Anxiety Disorders?

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Anxiety Disorders

The term Anxiety disorder is a collective term for a group of disorders that share anxiety-related symptoms. Each individual anxiety disorder refers to a set of anxiety symptoms and specific anxiety triggers.  All anxieties sufferers have an excessive fear or discomfort that is out of proportion to the situation, and which is something that most people would not find that frightening.  There are a number of common anxiety disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety, Phobias and PTSD.

anxiety disorders manchester | ocd manchester | social anxiety manchesterIn many respects the divisions between the anxiety disorder categories are somewhat artificial, as the underlying mechanism of the anxiety at a physiological and neurological level is the same or very similar between the different disorders, and only really differs in regards to the conscious and unconscious thought processes that initiate and maintain the anxiety. Because of the somewhat artificial nature of the anxiety disorder categories, people will quite often find that their symptoms will not fit neatly into any one single anxiety disorder, as they will probably be experiencing symptoms of more than a single anxiety disorder simultaneously. This is a limitation of applying a medical model to a psychological issue. Thankfully a psychotherapist/counsellor is trained to look beyond this simplistic way of thinking about anxiety, and as an alternative deals with the person as a whole, working flexibly with whatever thoughts, behaviours, emotions, lifestyle, and relationships the individual brings along to their therapy.

A list of Common Anxiety Disorders:

Panic Disorder

Is literally the fear of having a panic attack, and this fear can cause such intense anxiety about having another panic attack, that it actually intensifies to the point where it can cause a panic attack to occur. Many anxieties are cyclical in nature, as feeling anxious about the symptoms that are caused by the anxiety only serve to cause the anxiety symptoms to escalate further. Extremely unpleasant and intense physical and mental symptoms can be produced by a panic attack, with quite a few people believing that they are having a heart attack and/or are going to die or are going insane.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder

A persistent and excessive anxiety or worry about past, current or future events or activities which may or may not happen.  Often the anxiety has no obvious cause.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Can include repetitive behaviours such as checking, cleaning, counting, hand washing, or repeating words silently. The person will experience unwanted compulsive behaviours and/or obsessive thoughts.

Social Anxiety

People with social anxiety or social phobia may fear embarrassing themselves or making a fool of themselves in some way in situations involving other people.  The person may experience fear, anxiety, panic, or shame in those situations.  Social anxiety causes the sufferer to restrict their life to avoid potentially uncomfortable situations that involve other people. Often social activities, career choices and relationships become severely limited as a result.

Specific Phobias

A Specific Phobia is an excessive fear of a specific thing.  The phobia can be about almost anything and won’t necessarily seem logical.  Some common specific phobias include public speaking, spiders, flying, lifts, dogs, heights, confined spaces, blood.  The object or situation is avoided or provokes extreme anxiety.

Somatoform Disorder

Often more commonly referred to as Hypochondria. It is an excessive worry about your health and in particular about having an undiagnosed health issue. Often accompanied by frequent checking of bodily sensations, and doubts relating to medical diagnosis and test results.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The experience, or witness of, or confrontation with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death, or serious injury, or threat of physical injury of self or others. The major feature of PTSD is the reliving of the event through flashbacks, nightmares or dreams.


Commonly treated examples of anxiety

People frequently seek help from counsellors and psychotherapists for the following anxieties:


Anxiety Disorder Related Websites

About the Author

Nigel Magowan is based in Manchester, England, and is a professional and experienced Solution-Focused Integrative Psychotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner, Life Coach, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapist. He is a UKCP and BACP Registered Psychotherapist who has been in full-time private practice since 2002.  He uses a flexible brief integrative approach which combines all his training, skills and experience to produce a treatment that is tailored to your exact needs. Over the years he has become increasingly more specialised in treating the various anxiety disorders in his Manchester practice. He is also an Approved Anxiety UK Therapist.  As someone who has suffered from anxiety, he is also able to bring his own personal understanding and empathy into his anxiety related work with his clients.


Related terms

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