General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
A lot of us worry about things—a test, our bills, meeting new people, or making a speech. But people with general anxiety disorder have to deal with intense worry and tension nearly all the time. About 4 million Americans have GAD; twice as many women as men are diagnosed with it. The worry GAD causes brings about physical symptoms like fatigue, headaches, muscle tension and aches, trouble swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, and hot flashes. Mild GAD lets people function fairly well in everyday life, but more severe cases can overwhelm a person and cause serious difficulties. There's a variety of treatment and support options that can be effective including psychotherapy, medications, and support groups as well as the acceptance and sensitive understanding of friends. If you have a friend with GAD, be sensitive to his or her feelings and offer your support—you can make a big difference in his or her recovery.
Imagine a sudden feeling of terror that sets your heart racing, your stomach churning, and your head spinning. Panic attacks occur without warning and can cause frightening physical symptoms that seem almost like a heart attack. About 2.4 million Americans suffer from panic disorder; twice as many women as men are directly affected. Left untreated, panic disorder can cause the person with it to avoid triggering situations or places, which can be extremely disruptive to his or her everyday life. In about a third of cases, it can even result in agoraphobia, a condition in which a person becomes isolated or housebound. Depression, drug abuse, and alcoholism often accompany panic disorder. It can be serious. Luckily, it's also highly treatable. There's a variety of treatment and support options that can be effective including psychotherapy, medications, and support groups as well as the acceptance and sensitive understanding of friends.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Many people are particular about this or that—they want things to be just so. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder, however, experience these feelings to an extreme extent. They must deal with persistent and unwelcome anxious thoughts (obsessions), which give rise to ritualistic practices (compulsions) that are intended to control the intruding thoughts. People may feel compelled to count objects or actions, check things repeatedly, or wash their hands over and over again. About 3.3 million Americans are living with OCD; men and women are equally affected. Severe cases can take up so much of a person's time and concentration that the actions of normal life are nearly impossible. There's a variety of treatment and support options that can be effective including psychotherapy, medications, and support groups as well as the acceptance and sensitive understanding of friends. If you have a friend with OCD, try to understand that the ideas and actions can't just be wished away. Remember, too, that understanding, respect, and support can help.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A terrifying experience—military combat, a car accident, sexual abuse, a natural disaster—can bring about a terrifying condition. PTSD affects about 5.2 million Americans, but more women than men are likely to develop it. A person with PTSD relives his or her trauma through nightmares or upsetting thoughts; this reliving can make him or her feel detached, numb, irritable, or aggressive. Ordinary events can trigger a flashback episode or cause a resurgence of the unpleasant thoughts. Some people recover soon after the troubling event, but others need more time—along with therapy and medication. Of course, understanding friends are a big help, too.
Social Anxiety Disorder
If you've ever experienced butterflies in the stomach, you're not alone—we've all been there. But social anxiety disorder is something else entirely. People with this condition—about 5.3 million Americans—experience a debilitating fear of interacting with others or appearing in public. Some have problems with public speaking, some with eating in public, and some with just being around others. People with social anxiety disorder fear that other people are watching or judging them, and this can cause considerable difficulty in everyday life. It's hard to relate to others when you feel humiliated or embarrassed. Some of the physical symptoms include blushing, profuse sweating, trembling, nausea, and difficulty talking. There's a variety of treatment and support options that can be effective including psychotherapy, medications, and support groups as well as the acceptance and sensitive understanding of friends.
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD gets a lot of press, but what is it, exactly? It's a diagnosis applied to children (mostly) who consistently display behaviors like inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Two million American kids are diagnosed with ADHD; they have a hard time keeping their minds on a task and may get bored after just a few minutes. They can't sit still and may talk or dash about incessantly. Not every child—or adult—with these behaviors has ADHD; scientists have learned a lot about the condition over the past decade and are now able to recognize and treat it with medication and therapy. It's important to remember that people with ADHD aren't doing it on purpose—ADHD causes these behaviors, and the children aren't to blame. If someone you know has ADHD, reassure him or her that things are OK and that your love is unconditional.
Source: Content provided and maintained by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration SAMHSA)