Anxiety Disorders

Each year about one out of eight people in the United States experiences an anxiety related disorder . DSM-IV distinguishes between eleven different types, including generalized or "free-floating" anxiety, panic attacks, phobic reactions, post-traumatic stress disorders, and the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Several of these disorders are discussed in other chapters; here we will cover panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What is "free-floating anxiety"?

All the anxiety disorders are characterized by panicky feelings and symptoms of stress. Generalized or free-floating anxiety is a nameless, apparently groundless feeling of discomfort and alarm, as one might feel before a dreaded event. The term free-floating is used when this dread cannot be related to anything obvious in the patient's history or physical and social environment.


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