Note - information provided in this section is intended for informational purposes only.
OCD is characterized by frequent, disturbing intrusive thoughts, feelings, ideas, or sensations (obsessions) and accompanying behaviors that one feels compelled to engage in (compulsions). Compulsions can be either external (washing hands) or internal (counting or praying). One engages in compulsions to get rid of obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief.
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated attacks of fear that last for several minutes (panic attacks). Interestingly, one does not meet diagnostic criteria for Panic Disorder simply by experiencing frequent panic attacks. In addition, one must also experience frequent worry about possibility of having a future panic attack. Over 90 percent of the population will state they have had a panic attack at some point in their life yet only 3 percent meet criteria for Panic Disorder. The key different between these two groups is the second group’s high anxiety sensitivity, or discomfort with the sensations of anxiety. Panic disorder is therefore known as “fear of fear”.
GAD is an anxiety disorder characterized by frequent and uncontrollable worry about every day life concerns (finances, health, family, professional life).
PTSD entails the experiencing of severe anxiety symptoms after exposure to a traumatic event. Key PTSD symptoms include reexperiencing the trauma through flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of triggers of the trauma and increased physiologic arousal.