Anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that covers a range of mental health problems characterised by excessive worryingapprehension and fear about future uncertainties either based on real or imagined events, which may affect both physical and psychological health. Some of the specific disorders are listed opposite.


Anxiety can present in several ways and emotions can range from simple nervousness to bouts of terror at different times. Anxiety disorders are classified into several specific conditions, each with its own cause,  characteristics and symptoms and each requiring different treatment.


Anxiety disorders can cause both psychological and physical symptoms and is frequently associated with depression, substance misuse, physical health problems and social withdrawal. 


Many psychiatric and medical syndromes can mimic or aggrevate anxiety disorder (e.g. hyperthyroidism) and might be wrongly diagnosed. A thorough clinical assessment is necessary for the decide the right diagnostic formulation and the decide on the best treatment options.  

Specific Phobias - Fear that is out of proportion to any real danger and which interfere with the ability to live a normal life. Common phobias include fear of heights, certain animals or insects, blood, injections, being sick, enclosed spaces and fear of flying. 


Panic Disorder -  intense periods of fear known as panic attacks, usually lasting a few minutes and often triggered by something, but they may develop for no apparent reason. Fear of having further attacks may stop people from leaving home or safe, familiar surrounding areas (i.e. agoraphobia). 


Generalised Anxiety DisorderA long-term disorder characterised by feeling worried most of the time about things that might possibly go wrong. 


Health-Related AnxietyWorrying about health or disease alot of the time when there is no medical reason for concern. Being diagnosed with illness (e.g. cancer, heart disease) can also lead to anxiety about many aspects of life and the future. These worries are often excessive, affect life negatively or drive the need to constantly seek comfort and reassurance from others. 


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) - Recurrent fearful of anxious throughts (i.e. obsessions, like intrustive fear of spreading or contracting some sort of contamination, or inadvertently harming someone), sometimes associated with mental or physical rituals or other behaviours (i.e. compulsions, like excessive washing, counting, checking etc.) intended to cancel or neutralise out the obsessive throughts. Symptoms vary from mild to very severe.


Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) - Recurring thoughts, memories, images, dreams or distressing 'flashbacks' of a traumatic life event that was experienced (or witnessed) at some stage in life. Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms include anxiety, which may come and go, and It may develop years after the traumatic event has occurred.



© Headspace Dorset 2014                                                       Tel:   077244 08383            Fax:  01202 366887              Mail:        


77 Penn Hill Avenue, Poole, BH14 9LY                                    Registered with the Information Commissioner's Office - Registration Number ZA 028 421