Anxiety Disorders in the DSM
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by feelings of worry, fear, and uneasiness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is a widely used system for diagnosing and classifying mental health disorders. According to the DSM, there are several types of anxiety disorders, each with their own symptoms and diagnostic criteria.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and persistent worrying about a variety of topics. People with GAD often experience physical symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping, restlessness, and fatigue. In order to be diagnosed with GAD, a person must experience excessive worry more days than not for at least six months, and the worrying must be difficult to control.
Panic Disorder is characterized by recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort that usually peaks within 10 minutes and is accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, chest pain, and sweating. To be diagnosed with Panic Disorder, a person must experience recurrent panic attacks and at least one of the attacks must be followed by at least one month of persistent worry about having another attack or about the implications of the attack.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is characterized by intense fear or anxiety in social or performance situations. People with SAD often experience physical symptoms such as blushing, sweating, trembling, or difficulty speaking. To be diagnosed with SAD, a person must experience fear or anxiety in social or performance situations that is excessive and unreasonable.
Specific phobias are characterized by intense fear or anxiety in response to a specific object or situation. Common specific phobias include fear of animals, fear of heights, and fear of flying. To be diagnosed with a specific phobia, a person must experience intense fear or anxiety in response to a specific object or situation that is excessive and unreasonable.
Other Anxiety Disorders
The DSM also recognizes other anxiety disorders, including:
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: characterized by excessive fear or anxiety related to separation from home or from people with whom the person has a strong emotional bond.
- Agoraphobia: characterized by fear or anxiety related to situations in which the person may feel trapped or helpless, such as being in a crowded place or in an elevator.
- Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder: characterized by fear or anxiety related to the use of a substance or medication.
- Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition: characterized by fear or anxiety related to another medical condition.
- Other Specified Anxiety Disorder: characterized by fear or anxiety that does not meet the criteria for any of the other anxiety disorders.
- Unspecified Anxiety Disorder: characterized by fear or anxiety that cannot be classified as any of the other anxiety disorders.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you identify the type of anxiety disorder you are experiencing and provide you with treatment options.