Understanding Anxiety

Anxiety is a normal human emotion.  Our fight or flight systemallows us evaluate threats and helps us to identify a response.  We all know what it feels like to be nervous beforegiving a big speech or asking for a raise, or that rush of anxiety when youalmost slip on the ice.  Often the feelings associated with anxiety are uncomfortable, but they are quite ordinary, not dangerous, and typically go away after a short while.


Some examples of common anxiety symptoms are: feelings of nervousness, muscle tension, worry, sleeplessness, poor concentration, irritability, feeling uncomfortable or queasy in a specific situation, and avoidance.  If these symptoms become excessive, begin to feel uncontrollable, and start to interfere in a person's life, they may manifest in the various disorders.  Please scroll down to find out more about anxiety disorders, or click the links to find out more about oc spectrum disorders and hoarding.

If you think you may be experiencing any of these difficulties and would like to learn more, please contact us or visit the participate page.

Despite the degree of distress and disability associated with disorders in the anxiety and OC spectrum, effective psychological and pharmacological treatments have been identified.  With regard to psychological interventions, those within the cognitive behavioral framework have the most empirical support for reducing symptoms.

Below we have provided brief descriptions of each of the anxiety disorders. At any given time we may have an ongoing research study focused on trying to learn more about the nature of these conditions, or a treatment investigation aimed at reducing the suffering created by anxiety.

Please contact us or visit the participate page if you are interested in learning more, have questions, or want to participate!

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is where an individual is overwhelmed by panic attacks.  Panic attacks are characterized by intense fear or anxiety accompanied by physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain or heart palpitations, or nausea.  Individuals with panic disorder may avoid one or several situations that are often associated with experiencing a panic attack.  Common situations include: driving, elevators, crowds, or bridges.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Also known as social phobia, SAD is characterized by an intense fear of negative evaluation.  Individuals can experience this fear in specific situations, or it can be more generalized to any social situations.  SAD is the most common anxiety disorder, with approximately 13% of the population meeting for a life-time diagnosis.  It is associated with avoidance of social situations and can be extremely distressing and debilitating across different domains of an individual's life.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Excessive, irrational worry and anxiety over everyday life events and issues are the hallmark features of GAD.

Specific Phobias

Individuals with a specific phobia have exaggerated and irrational fears of an object, person, or event.  These individuals experience extreme, often debilitating, distress with exposure to the object or situation.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

It is common for individuals to experience anxiety after experiencing a severe trauma.  If these symptoms persist even after the event has passed, an individual may be diagnosed with PTSD.  Symptoms include flashbacks or nightmares, increased arousal, loss of pleasure from social contacts, numbing and avoidance.