Diagnosis > Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety is evoked in, or in anticipation of, a well-defined situation and leads to avoidance. The anxiety is out of proportion to the risk posed, but cannot be reasoned away. Causes distress or impairment of functioning.



1. Agoraphobia

Anxiety in: public spaces, crowds, when travelling alone/away from home

Intensive fear of situations where escape is difficult

Avoidance can be very disabling and impair access to treatment

2. Social Phobia

Fear of being judged in social situations

Frequently associated with fear of: blushing, vomiting, being incontinent

Avoidance can be very disabling

3. Specific Phobias

These are phobias restricted to highly specific situations such as animals, heights, thunder, darkness, flyning, the sight of blood etc


Generalised Anxiety Disorder

This is a disorder of persistent excessive anxiety about every day events. Anxiety is not restricted to specific circumstances (i.e. it is free-floating). Complaints of continuous feelings of nervousness, trembling, muscular tension, sweating, lightheadedness, palpitations, dizziness, and epigastric discomfort are common.



Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

Recurrent obsessional thoughts and/or compulsive acts.

  • Obsessional thoughts are:

    • Ideas, images or impulses that enter the individual's mind again and again in a stereotyped form.

    • Distressing.

    • The individual often tries to resist them.

    • They are recognized as the individual's own thoughts.

  • Compulsive acts are:

    • Stereotyped behaviours that are repeated again and again.

    • Not enjoyable.

    • Usually recognised as pointless.

    • Repeated attempts are made to resist.


Panic Disorder

  • Recurrent attacks of severe anxiety.

  • Symptoms include: sudden onset of palpitations, chest pain, choking sensations, dizziness, and feelings of unreality (depersonalization or derealization), fear of dying, losing control or going mad

  • Individual attacks usually last for minutes only.

  • Often associated with anticipatory fears about having another panic attack.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  • Symptoms arise after a traumatic event.

  • Symptoms of increased arousal include: difficulty falling asleep, irritability, poor concentration, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response

  • Persistent reliving or remembering of event: flashbacks/nightmares

  • Avoidance of circumstances related to stressor/event

  • Clinically significant distress and impairment of functioning



Click here to view "Psychiatric Interviews for Teaching: Anxiety" - a video created by The University of Nottingham.