Anxiety Disorders

“As an undergraduate student in psychology, I was taught that multiple personalities were a very rare and bizarre disorder. That is all that I was taught on ... It soon became apparent that what I had been taught was simply not true. Not only was I meeting people with multiplicity; these individuals entering my life were normal human beings with much to offer. They were simply people who had endured more than their share of pain in this life and were struggling to make sense of it.”

― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook

Anxiety Disorders

Image: "Shame" by Amber Kost


Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders include separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, specific phobia (specify if animal, natural environment, blood, injection and transfusion, other medical care, injury, situational, other), social anxiety disorder (social phobia) (specify if performance only), panic disorder, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder due to another medical condition, other specified anxiety disorder, and unspecified anxiety disorder.

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) used to be classified as an anxiety disorder but is now classified as a trauma- and stressor-related disorder.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by "excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances." This regards both real or perceived threats and anticipation of future threats. These are associated respectively with autonomic arousal, thoughts of immediate danger, and escape behaviors and with muscle tension, vigilance, or cautious and avoidant behaviors. Panic attacks may result. Anxiety disorders differ due to their triggers and the associated thoughts and beliefs, though high comorbidity does exist between them. Anxiety disorders regard often persistent anxiety and fear and are twice as common in females as in males.

Separation anxiety disorder regards an individual's fear or anxiety regarding separation from an attachment figure and harm occurring to the attachment figure, reluctance to part with the attachment figure, and nightmares and physical symptoms of distress. Though this disorder is most common in children, it can also occur in adults.

Selective mutism occurs when there is a consistent failure to speak in social situations in which speaking would be expected even though the individual can speak in other situations. This failure to speak causes academic, occupational, or social dysfunction.

Specific phobia relates to fear, anxiety, or avoidance that is almost always immediately induced by the situation that is the target. These feelings are persistent and unproportionate to the actual risk presented.

Social anxiety disorder focuses on a fear, anxiety, or avoidance of situations in which the individual can be scrutinized. Meeting unfamiliar people, eating or drinking in public, or performing in front of others can all invoke fears of being negatively evaluated, embarrassed, humiliated, or rejected or of offending others.

Panic disorder is characterized by the experience of and subsequent worry and avoidance regarding panic attacks. Panic attacks are episodes of terror or intense discomfort that only last a few minutes but that may invoke associations with death or the world ending. They may occur in response to certain stimuli or occur without a visible trigger.

Agoraphobia is a fear of being unable to escape or being unable to get help if the individual experiences panic-like or other incapacitating or embarrassing symptoms. These fears manifest through a fear or avoidance of using public transport, being in open spaces, being in enclosed places, standing in line or being in a crowd, or being outside of the home alone.

Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent and excessive anxiety about many aspects of daily life. This anxiety is accompanied by physical symptoms such as being restless or on edge, being easily fatigued, having difficulty concentrating or having one's mind go blank, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.

All information taken from the DSM-5.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Anxiety Disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).