Anxiety is part of life; everyone feels it to one degree or another during their lives. However, when that feeling of anxiety starts to take over your life, or is persistent beyond a certain time in our lives (e. g. a speech in class) then a person may have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are characterized by extreme distress, persistent anxiety, or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety. There are four common types of anxiety disorders: Generalized anxiety disorder, Panic disorder, Phobias, and Obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Each disorder is characterized by a set of common symptoms and can be caused by different things. The Disorders Generalized Anxiety DisorderA generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by feelings of edginess, continual tense and jittery feelings, worry, muscular tension, agitation, and sleeplessness. Those feelings may make themselves known to the outside world through furrowed brows, twitches, sweating, and fidgeting. A person suffering from this disorder may find it difficult to concentrate on their day to day lives, their attention is constantly diverted to a large variety of worries. Panic DisorderA panic disorder is characterized by a feeling of intense dread.

A panic disorder makes itself known suddenly through panic attacks. A panic attack takes place over the span of a couple of minutes and is characterized by an intense feeling of fear, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, choking sensations, trembling, or dizziness. The bodies false alarm is a completely unpredictable experience that can cause a person to begin to fear, fear itself and to avoid locations where that panic may have occurred in the past. This extreme reaction is wat develops into a panic disorder. Phobias phobia is a feeling of intense fear directed at a certain object, activity, or situation. Phobias are irrational fears that can disrupt a persons daily activities.

Most people can accept and live with certain phobias but there are some that are incapacitating, such as fears of heights, of certain types of weather, of social situations, or of certain animal or insect life. Obsessive-compulsive Disorder An obsessive-compulsive disorder may at first seem to fit the entire population. At one time or another every single one of us finds ourselves obsessed with something, be it cleaning, rechecking locked doors, or organizing. However, an obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by taking those symptoms and pushing them to extremes. When obsessive thoughts and feelings become so persistent that they interfere in the way a person lives, then they may be an obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The Explanations Psychoanalytic The Psychoanalytic explanation for anxiety disorders is based on Freud's personality theory. Freud said that there are three sides to the personality, the id, ego, and superego. The id is the inborn personality and is the source of desires and wishes. The ego is the conscious personality and where we find contact with the real world. The superego is the source of morals. The id is where you generally find the forbidden sexual and aggressive urges.

In a socialized person those urges have been repressed. However, those urges want to break through and be acted on. An individual can sense this inner struggled, and anxiety is their inner alarm system warning them to be aware of what is going on. Anxiety however is often experienced as a threat from the outside world rather than the inner world where this struggle is taking place. The reason this is, is a defense mechanism known as projection, a tendency to perceive the external world in terms of the conflicts we experience on an unconscious level.

So those inner battles are being waged and we project those feelings onto our outside perceptions, and those cause anxiety. Learning Experiments have shown that with the use of electric shocks scientists could create anxious, ulcer prone rats. The same would more than likely be true of humans (not that it would be ethical to perform such experiments on them. ) The learning perspective is that a person learns to act and react the way they do. Victims develop certain anxiety disorders in reaction to their experiences, and soldiers develop certain anxieties due to their experiences in battle. An anxiety could be experienced due to a forgotten experience that is brought up by different stimuli.

And certain fears can be found in areas outside of the generalized area, such as a fear of airplanes being found in a person with a generalized fear of heights. Conclusion Each anxiety disorder has different symptoms when viewed from the larger picture, yet all of them often feel rather similar to the person experiencing them. They all causes feelings of jitteriness and can cause physical reactions such as heart palpitations and perspiration. And each disorder is caused by different things, yet each of those things could be traced back to the same inner feelings. If you look at it from the perspective of Freud's psychoanalytic explanation than the disorders are all caused by the ids struggle, trying to break free and be seen in our egos. The learning perspective tells us that all of the disorders are something that we learned at some point in our lives, through negative or memorable experiences.

No matter what causes these disorders they are something a large number of people in the world experience, and something that everyone should learn about and try to understand. References Meyers, D. G. (2004). Psychology (7 th ed. ).

NYC: Worth Publishers. The Health Center. Retrieved February 02, 2005, from web.