Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias

Glossary: Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias

Here are definitions of medical terms related to anxiety, fears, and phobias.

Agoraphobia: Fear of going into open spaces, or public areas.

Counselor: A mental health professional, such as a social worker, marriage and family counselor, or psychiatric nurse clinician who can give counseling and therapy to change behavior.

Generalized anxiety disorder: People experience a constant state of anxiety and worry about things in their daily lives. This state lasts at least six months and can be accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, headache, nausea and fatigue.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder: People experience unwanted thoughts or compulsive behaviors that they feel they cannot stop or control.

Panic attack: Unexpected feelings of fear, often accompanied by physical symptoms that come on suddenly, increase rapidly in intensity, and last 20 minutes or more.

Panic disorder: A type of anxiety disorder characterized by repeated panic attacks that are not caused by an actual threat or danger.

Panic disorder with avoidance: A condition in which people avoid situations that they fear will produce panic attacks.

Post traumatic stress disorder: People who experience or see a traumatic event – such as war, an accident, or a crime – may experience flashbacks and nightmares, along with depression, anger and sleep problems.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who can prescribe medication in addition to giving counseling and behavior therapy.

Psychologist: A mental health professional with a doctorate in psychology who can give counseling and behavioral therapy, but cannot prescribe medication.

Specific phobia: A persistent fear of, and desire to avoid, a certain object or situation.

Social phobia: An exaggerated fear of embarrassment or humiliation.

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