Module 6 - Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders in DSM-V

The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V) describes anxiety disorders in relation to the cause of the anxiety (i.e. social anxiety disorder identifies that social situations cause the anxiety) and on what symptoms are present (obsessions, panic). The following list outlines the major categories of anxiety described in the DSM-V.

Panic Attack

Panic attacks are a specifier rather than a separate diagnosis and may occur in the context of any of the anxiety disorders as well as other tyes of disorder such as depression or psychosis. They are an intense and deeply unpleasant experience of acute anxiety or fear which usually peaks within a minute. They are divided into two types: expected or unexpected.

Panic Disorder

A diagnosis of panic disorder is made if the person experiences repeated unexpected panic attacks in

a period of at least one month. The person usually has a significant fear of future attacks or may

change their behaviour to avoid future attacks.


People with agoraphobia describe or show marked anxiety and/or fear (up to the level of panic

attacks) in at least two of the following places: crowds, public places (shops, queues etc.), when

using public transport and when leaving the home. Alternatively, the individual avoids these

situations due to anticipatory fear, or runs away to escape the situation.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder, previously known as social phobia, is a disorder marked by anxiety/fear occurring in social situations. Examples include eating in public, going to work, participating in meetings etc. The anxiety may lead to panic attacks in these situations, avoidance of these situations or running away when confronted with them. There is a fear of behaving in an embarrassing or humiliating way.

Specific Phobia

A specific or simple phobia is when a person experiences fear due to a specific situation or object, for example cats, dogs, insects, thunder, heights, or injections. The individual may experience that fear in anticipation (i.e. before the event), may feel intense fear or panic when confronted by their phobia, and may run away to escape the situation. Fear of animals and fear of the dark are the most commonly reported phobias. Phobias may develop or persist after a specific incident (e.g. dog bite, car crash).

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalised anxiety does not occur in response to any specific trigger and the person experiences prominent tension, worry or feelings of apprehension about everyday events and problems. Other anxiety disorders include elective mutism and seperation anxiety disorder.
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