Acute Stress Disorder
Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) is diagnosed following the direct or indirect exposure of a traumatic event.
The key feature is the development of symptoms that appear as early as three days to one month following the traumatic event. Individuals with Acute Stress Disorder will often engage in catastrophic and negative thoughts regarding their role and response to the traumatic event.
Adjustment Disorder is characterized by emotional and behavioral changes that occur following an identifiable stressor.
A stressor can be a single event or multiple events that are continuous. The stressor does not necessarily have to be something experienced by the individual. It can also be one experienced by a close group such as the family or community.
Agoraphobia is not, as many people believe, just about open spaces.
It is really a fear of being in any place or situation where the sufferer does not feel safe, where they feel trapped, or where escape may be difficult or embarrassing. A person with agoraphobia may avoid a range of situations, e.g. queues, public transport, large crowded shops, supermarkets, shopping centers. In these situations, the person feels anxious with panic feelings (butterflies in the stomach, palpitations i.e. increased heart rate, hyperventilation etc.). The sufferer feels that when they panic something ‘bad’ will happen. These fears are usually about a fear of illness and harm (e.g. having a heart attack, dying, stopping breathing) or a fear of public scrutiny and embarrassment (e.g. falling and “making a fool” of oneself). Panic-like symptoms might include typical symptoms of panic (e.g. dizziness, faintness, and fear of dying), or “other intrusive, uncomfortable or embarrassing symptoms” such as vomiting, fainting, sweating, falling, or, in children, a sense of disorientation, getting lost, or being kidnapped are more common.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder
Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) exhibit an excessive concern regarding one or more perceived defects or flaws in their physical appearance.
Individuals with this disorder often believe they look ugly, unattractive, abnormal, or deformed. However, the perceived flaws are often not observable or may be minimal to others.
Compulsive Hair Pulling
Compulsive Hair Pulling (Trichotillomania) is considered an impulse control disorder.
It involves the irresistible urge to pull out one’s hair from any area of the body including the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes, and pubic area resulting in noticeable hair loss. If untreated, it is a chronic, though often intermittent condition. Pulling hair can result in visible bald patches, which can lead to significant distress and feelings of shame about the inability to stop this behavior. Urges increase at times of stress with individuals unaware that they are engaging in the hair pulling behavior.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Individuals who suffer from Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) worry excessively and uncontrollably about many everyday concerns.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is often accompanied by trouble sleeping or concentrating, and persistent feelings of irritability, tension, restlessness, weakness, or exhaustion. While these symptoms can be shared by both generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, panic disorder is associated with recurring panic attacks and worrying about oncoming panic attacks, where individuals with GAD describe their anxiety as being constantly present in their daily lives.
A person with Hoarding Disorder feels a strong need to acquire objects and they are unable or unwilling to part with them without experiencing great distress.
The main diagnostic characteristics are extreme difficulty parting with possessions regardless of actual value and a cluttered living space due to abundance of possessions leading to severe distress or impairment.
The phrase “obsessive-compulsive” has worked its way into the English lexicon and is often used in an offhand manner to describe someone who is meticulous or absorbed in a cause. It is important to distinguish these traits from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Although these signs are often present in OCD, a person who shows signs of infatuation or fixation with a subject or object, or displays traits such as perfectionism, does not necessarily have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is most commonly characterized by a person’s obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or “rituals”) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.
Panic and Acute Anxiety
There is a distinct difference between a panic attack and a diagnosis of panic disorder.
A panic attack is a brief period of extreme distress, anxiety, or fear that begins suddenly and is accompanied by physical, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. The physical symptoms of a panic attack are caused by the body going into a “Fight-Flight-Freeze” response mode; the body’s automatic, built-in system designed to protect us from danger. During an anxiety or panic inducing situation, your body tries to take in more oxygen and your breathing quickens. Your body also releases hormones, such as adrenaline, causing your heart to beat faster and your muscles to tense up. This system is critical to our survival from true threat or danger and can be put into action during both perceived and actual moments of threat. Panic attacks may occur in any anxiety disorder and typically consistent with the core fears and characteristics of the specific disorder. For example, you may experience panic attacks in conjunction with Social Anxiety Disorder in moments where there is the perception of judgment or embarrassment.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The defining characteristic of a traumatic event is its capacity to provoke fear, helplessness, or horror in response to the threat of injury or death.
A child or adolescent who experiences a catastrophic event may develop ongoing difficulties known as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The stressful or traumatic event involves a situation where someone’s life has been threatened or severe injury has occurred. Examples include: being the victim or a witness of physical abuse, sexual abuse, violence in the home or in the community, automobile accidents, natural disasters (such as flood, fire, earthquakes), and being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. A child’s risk of developing PTSD is related to the seriousness of the trauma, whether the trauma is repeated, the child’s proximity to the trauma, and his/her relationship to the victim(s).
Reactive Attachment Disorder
Reactive Attachment Disorder is characterized by the inability of a child to establish a healthy attachment to their parent or primary caregiver.
Attachment, the deep connection established between a child and their parent or primary caregiver, is incredibly important for early development of a child and can impact their relationships with others later in life. Thus, a child’s inability to establish a healthy attachment to their parent can cause difficulty connecting to others or managing their emotions as they age.
Separation Anxiety Disorder is characterized by a child’s extreme unwillingness to separate from a parent, other attachment figures, or the home.
The separation results in fear, which causes significant distress for the child and can negatively affect how the child functions at school, in social relationships and in other areas of life.
Skin Picking (Excoriation Disorder)
The key feature of Excoriation Disorder is frequent picking at one’s own skin.
Individuals with excoriation behaviors most commonly focus on areas such as the face, arms, hands, as well as multiple body areas. Individuals will often pick at healthy skin, minor skin irregularities, lesions (e.g. pimples and calluses) or scabs from previous picking. Most excoriation behaviors are performed with their fingernails, tweezers, pins, or other objects. Aside from picking skin, individuals may also engage in rubbing, squeezing, lancing, and biting behaviors. Excoriation behaviors can lead to clinically significant distress, which can impact social, occupational and other areas of functioning.
A specific phobia involves an intense, unreasonable, and persistent fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation to a degree that it interferes with one’s ability to function.
The danger of the feared stimulus is over-estimated and one’s ability to cope with negative consequences is under-estimated. The anxiety and dread experienced is out of proportion to the danger which results in avoidance of the feared object or situation. To be diagnosed with a specific phobia, the fear or avoidance needs to be distressing or impairing and constrain or limit a person’s life.