Shining the Light of Healing on Anxiety Disorder
by Neal Sideman
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It is the most common mental health problem, dramatically affecting the lives of one in five Americans.  It causes nightmarish anxiety and panic to take center stage in one's life.  It’s  commonplace, but poorly understood.  Millions suffer for years without even knowing its name.

Its name is "anxiety disorder”.  Undiagnosed and untreated, it can lead to addiction, depression and suicide.  But with diagnosis and treatment, most people experience a dramatic improvement in their lives.  For many, including the author of this piece, the process of healing can lead to profound personal growth, full recovery and cure.

Chances are, in your own circle of friends and family, someone is struggling with an anxiety disorder.  A little knowledge on your part could help make the difference between years of needless suffering and a path to acceptance, healing and growth.

Recognizing Anxiety Disorder

We all experience stress and anxiety – they are a normal and universal aspect of life.  In an anxiety disorder, however, the experience is very different.  One’s entire life is affected.  Debilitating anxiety and fear interfere with one’s work, play, social life and relationships.

With just a little knowledge, one can recognize an anxiety disorder.  And recognition can be life-changing, because it is the first step in healing.  

There are seven main types of anxiety disorder, sometimes occurring in combination:

1)  Panic Disorder:  panic attacks, high anxiety and pervasive fear of panic;

2)  Agoraphobia:  avoidance of many everyday activities and situations because of panic and high anxiety;

3)  Social Phobia:  panic and/or high anxiety in many social situations;

4)  Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:  intrusive, obsessive thoughts and repetitive, compulsive rituals which can dominate one's everyday life

5)  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:  reactions to a past trauma, which may include flashbacks, nightmares, high anxiety and emotional numbness;

6)  Generalized Anxiety Disorder:  continual and obsessive worrying;

7)  Specific Phobia:  panic and/or high anxiety associated with one type of situation, such as heights or enclosed spaces.  A specific phobia is considered to be an anxiety disorder only when it is so severe that it interferes with everyday life.

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