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  • Print publication year: 2017
  • Online publication date: August 2018

12 - Anxiety disorders

from Section III - Disorders and psychological practice related items



Anxiety disorders are characterised by excessive fear, anxiety, or worry, and are associated with significant distress or impaired functioning. The anxiety disorders are presented here in an order consistent with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013). A brief description of each follows, along with the shared DSM-5/ICD-10 code. However, refer to the DSM-5 for a full description of the diagnostic criteria.

  • • Separation anxiety disorder (F93.0) is characterised by excessive fear or anxiety about separation from particular individuals or from home. Symptoms include excessive distress, worry, or physical symptoms when anticipating or experiencing separation, reluctance to sleep away from home or away from attachment figures, nightmares about separation, reluctance or refusal to go out, or worry about untoward events that would cause separation from attachment figures.
  • • Selective mutism (F94.0) describes a failure to speak in specific situations where it is expected, despite being able to speak in other social situations. This failure is not due to lack of familiarity or knowledge of the language or a communication disorder.
  • • Specific phobia (F40.2) is associated with intense fear or anxiety in the presence of a specific object or situation (code varies according to the specific phobia). Examples include fear of animals (e.g., spiders), blood, or injections, and flying on an aeroplane. Individuals with specific phobia avoid feared stimuli or situations or endure intense anxiety when exposed to them.
  • • Social anxiety disorder (F40.10) involves excessive fear or anxiety of social situations in which an individual may be evaluated. This includes social interactions, performance anxiety, and other situations where others observe an individual and there is the potential for embarrassment or negative assessment. The fear is out of proportion to the threats these situations pose, causes distress, and often leads to avoidance of social situations.
  • • Panic disorder (F41.0) describes recurrent panic attacks, which are intense periods of fear or discomfort that include a range of physical and cognitive symptoms. These symptoms include palpitations, sweating, sensations of shortness of breath or choking, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and a fear of losing control. They are exacerbated by misinterpretations of these symptoms (e.g., “I'm having a heart attack,” “I'm going to die,” or “I'm going crazy”).
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    Abnormal Psychology in Context
    • Online ISBN: 9781316182444
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