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acrophobia the fear of heights

aerophobia the fear of flying

agonist a drug that effectively mimics the action of a natural chemical messenger within the body

agoraphobia the fear of public places or open spaces; agoraphobics try to avoid being in situations from which they think escape would be difficult or help and safety are not readily available; this is often diagnosed in conjunction with panic disorder

anxiety a sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical symptoms (such as sweating, tension, and increased heart rate)

anxiety disorders a group of serious yet treatable health problems affecting one in 10 Americans; anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors

anxiolytics the medications that reduce the symptoms of anxiety

behavior therapy the treatment used to help patients substitute desirable responses and behavior patterns for undesirable ones

benzodiazepines a class of drugs that act as tranquilizers; the most common side effects are drowsiness and withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt ending of treatment

beta blockers a class of drugs typically used to decrease blood pressure and also prescribed to ease physical symptoms of anxiety associated with social phobia

claustrophobia the fear of closed spaces

cognitive therapy a form of therapy stemming from the belief that emotional disorders are caused by irrational yet habitual forms of thinking; these patterns are viewed as behaviors that the therapist can try to help the patient change

co-morbidity the state of having two or more disorders at one time

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depression a biologically-based psychological disorder marked by sadness, inactivity, difficulty with thinking and concentration, significant increase or decrease in appetite and sleep, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal thoughts or actions

exposure therapy a type of treatment that includes gradually bringing patients into contact with a feared object or situation; patients learn that the object or situation can be faced and that avoidance is unnecessary

family therapy the efforts aimed at helping a patient's family understand and cope with the patient's disorder and help in the patient's recovery

generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) an excessive or unrealistic worry that is unrelated to another illness and can last six months or more

genetically predisposed the potential for an individual to develop a condition or trait because of its presence in a family member

MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) potent anti-depressants thought to regulate chemicals in the central nervous system; they should rarely be the first medication used because they may interact dangerously with many other medications, foods and beverages

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neurosis a long-term disorder featuring anxiety and/or exaggerated behavior dedicated to avoiding anxiety; sufferers understand that the condition is abnormal



neurotransmitter a chemical substance released by nerve cell endings to transmit impulses across the space between nerve cells, tissues or organs

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) a condition marked by persistent and recurring thoughts (obsessions) typically reflecting exaggerated anxiety or fears that have no basis in reality; sufferers often feel compelled to perform a ritual or routine to help relieve anxiety caused by their obsessions; sufferers typically realize the ritual or compulsion makes no sense yet feel powerless to stop

palpitations an abnormally rapid beating of the heart

panic disorder a condition marked by episodes of immediate and intense anxiety at inappropriate times; sufferers may experience palpitations, feelings of faintness, chest pains, and a sensation that death is imminent, even when there is no apparent threat or danger; individuals who experience four or more unexplained attacks in a month, as well as individuals who have fewer attacks but live in constant fear of such an episode, may be suffering from the disorder

persistent anxiety: see generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a condition that results from experiencing or witnessing an unusually distressing event; symptoms range from repeatedly reliving the trauma, such as in dreams or flashbacks, to general emotional numbness, which often causes sufferers to withdraw from family and friends

progressive muscle relaxation tensing and relaxing the various muscle groups of the body in a systematic manner, such as starting with the feet and legs and proceeding up the body; this technique has been known to ease generalized anxiety disorder symptoms

rebound the return of original symptoms when treatment stops

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SRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) a class of anti-depressants used to treat anxiety disorders; they are thought to work by boosting the amount of serotonin ( a neurotransmitter linked to mood regulation) available to the brain; the most common side effect associated with SRIs is mild nausea that generally diminishes after a few weeks. Sexual dysfunction, primarily ejaculatory delay, also has been reported

social phobia an intense anxiety of being judged by others and/or publicly behaving in a way tat could lead to embarrassment or ridicule; perhaps most common is fear of public speaking

specific phobia an illogical but real and intense fear of an object, such as dogs or insects, or a situation, such as flying or closed spaces; also known as single phobia or simple phobia.

synapse gap at the end of a nerve fiber across which nerve impulses pass to the next neuron



tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs) a class of anti-depressants useful in some anxiety disorders; thought to work by regulating several neurotransmitters; TCAs can produce a wide range of side effects, which should be discussed with your doctor

withdrawal symptoms physical or psychological symptoms such as convulsions, tremor, vomiting, insomnia, anxiety, muscle pain and sweating that follow the abrupt discontinuation of a drug that produces physical dependence

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