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In the simplest sense anxiety is a state of tension, in which you are faced with a threat – real or imagined – which you are not certain you can overcome. Anxiety is a normal part of life, a reasonable reaction to a variety of situations. When anxiety becomes excessive, or prolonged and affects your health or your ability to function, or you begin to self medicate with drugs or alcohol, it can be defined as a “disorder”. Note that even in a state where you have excessive or prolonged anxiety, and thus a disorder, the cause or causes can be within your psychology/biology (internal), external (circumstantial)-or a combination.
Over the years psychiatrists have tried to classify the different types of anxiety, for both research and diagnostic purposes, and also with the hope that if the diagnosis is specific enough the treatment can also be specific and therefore more effective.
Currently, the common anxiety disorders are classified into the following types: Panic Disorder-commonly known as ‘anxiety attacks’ (with and without agoraphobia), specific phobias, social phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder due to a medical condition, and a miscellaneous category-anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS).
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