These disorders are characterized by an excessively frequent and intense sense of threat more or less defined (fears or anxieties) that often leads to a series of unpleasant somatic symptoms (e.g. tachycardia, feelings of suffocation, fainting) that people experience as intolerable or dangerous. People try to control anxiety with behaviors aimed at avoiding certain situations or objects and / or reassuring themselves (carrying reassuring objects, being accompanied by someone), which however greatly limit their freedom and well-being.
Specific phobia: it is the excessive and uncontrollable fear of a specific situation or object.
Fear is such that it manifests itself not only in the presence of that given situation or object, but also at thought alone. Many people happen to be afraid of something, such as animals, blood, airplanes, crowded places, etc., so we speak of ‘disturbance’ only if these fears interfere with their lives and goals.
Social anxiety disorder (Social phobia):
often mistaken for ‘excessive shyness’, it consists of a paralyzing fear of the judgment of others that leads people to constantly avoid most social situations. When they are forced to participate, the discomfort is very intense.
In a milder form, the disorder is mainly related to the performance of some services in the presence of others, such as reading or speaking in public.
About 13% of the population suffers from it.
In childhood and adolescence, this can be a common phenomenon. But it is good not to underestimate it if it leads the child to not develop friendships, to isolate himself in social occasions and if it causes severe suffering, which can lead to low self-esteem.
Panic Disorder: Panic attacks are often short but very unpleasant episodes in which people experience physical symptoms, such as palpitations, sweating, tremors, chest pains, abdominal discomfort, of such intensity that they fear going mad, dying, or losing control. They often go to the doctor or the emergency room, fearing it is a physical ailment or a heart attack.
Over time, a real “fear of fear” can develop and there is a tendency to avoid a whole series of situations and places associated with panic, aggravating the sense of loneliness and severely limiting the possibilities of life.In reality, if treated, it is a disorder that tends to have a prompt response to psychological treatment, especially if you start quickly compared to the onset of the problem.
Separation anxiety disorder:
- excessive and inappropriate fear for age linked to separation from the main reference figures, which lasts for more than a month in children and adolescents and 6 months in adults.
- There may be the fear that something will happen to them (eg accidents) or that an unforeseen event leads to having to separate from them (getting lost, getting sick, being kidnapped).
Anxiety can be such as to induce repeated nightmares related to the theme of separation or physical symptoms (eg headache, vomiting) when separation occurs or is expected. It often develops after a stressful event, such as a move or illness. It can greatly limit people’s lives, preventing them from going to school or work.
In these cases it is important to intervene early, especially in the developmental age, and to involve the reference figures in the therapeutic work.