Anxiety disorders
Anxiety is a normal response to life stresses. It is normal to have worries and get
upset from time to time, but for some people, the level of anxiety gets out of control
resulting in irrational fears and incessant worry that interfere with work and social
activities. Anxiety may also cause heart palpitations, muscle tension, sleep problems,
and other physical symptoms.

One form of anxiety manifests itself in the form of panic attacks, sudden 10 to
30-minute episodes characterized by a feeling of being out of control, confusion,
fear of dying or losing one’s mind, accompanied by physical symptoms such as a
racing heart, sweating, dizziness, and feeling faint. Panic attack can be associated
with many disorders from time to time or may be an isolated event. Panic disorder
is diagnosed when there is a recurrent fear of panic attacks, and a person alters their
behavior as a result.

Other manifestations of an anxiety disorder include various phobias, including social
anxiety disorder. Phobias are persistent, irrational fears, and avoidance of the
things or activities that cause them. Examples include fear of closed spaces and fear
of insects or animals such as mice. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia, affects
7% of the U.S. population. It is characterized by a constant fear of social situations
because of possible humiliation or embarrassment, feeling anxious or panicky
before a social interaction, and a persistent fear of interacting with or talking to

Self-care for anxiety can include stress-reducing activities such as yoga and muscle
relaxation, getting enough sleep, exercise, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Treatment of anxiety disorders with cognitive behavioral therapy, with or without
antidepressant drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), is the preferred initial
treatment strategy, but new drugs, deep brain stimulation, and other treatments provide
alternatives for patients whose condition does not respond.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) usually starts in the teens or early 20s. It
affects 1% to 3% of adults and is characterized by obsessions (recurrent repetitive
thoughts, images, and impulses) and compulsive, often repetitive behaviors that
interfere with normal activities and relationships. People with OCD recognize that
their obsessions and compulsions are not rational and are unnecessary but cannot
be resisted. OCD may lead to depression and benefits from psychotherapy and

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