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Anxiety Disorder

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Updated February 11, 2009

Definition: Anxiety disorders are exaggerations of our normal and adaptive reaction to fearful or stressful events. There are many types of anxiety disorders including panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) , posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). When you experience the familiar physical and psychological signs of fear and anxiety such as sweating, racing heart, shortness of breath, trembling, worry, or stress, these are cues that something is happening that could be a threat and that you need to deal with it. This “flight or fight” reaction activates the physical and psychological resources necessary to deal with the potential danger. Although this system works well most of the time, sometimes it can go into overdrive and do more harm than good. When this happens, it might indicate you have an anxiety disorder.
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