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Anxiety Disorders

Fear, or anxiety is an emotion that everyone is familiar with. Its biological purpose is to put the body in a state of alert that enables us to react instantly, and with full force. Thus, humans are able to deal with outside threats in any kind of environment - an indispensable mechanism for survival.

However, there are also fears that render our daily lives cumbersome and impair quality of life. This happens when fear with its concomitant physiological and mental phenomena arises in situations that are essentially not dangerous - a false alarm that triggers an irresistible impulse to flee. One may even know that the anxiety reaction is irrational, it occurs nonetheless. As a consequence, the situations that trigger the anxiety are avoided, or the person tries hard to endure the situation in question as long as it lasts. Unfortunately, in either case anxiety and avoidance behaviour tend to increase, and ultimately, fear and anxiety may influence every aspect of life.

Clinical Features

The diagnostic classification of an anxiety disorder depends on the type of situation or stimulus that triggers the fear.

Specific Phobia is a fear of a particular object or a specific situation (e.g. heights, blood and injections, a particular kind of animal)
Social Phobia is a fear of rejection or embarrassment arising in social situations
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a condition that occurs as a consequence of a life-threatening or catastrophic event (e.g. a severe accident, a violent crime, or a natural disaster)
Agoraphobia is a fear that occurs in situations or places where one cannot easily or immediately leave in case of feeling uneasy (e.g. shopping malls, crowds, public transport, in a car on a highway)
Panic Disorder is a fear that occurs unexpectedly ("out of the blue") and is typically accompanied by intense bodily symptoms
Generalised Anxiety is characterised by exaggerated, persistent worries that are accompanied by signs of tenseness, agitation, and restlessness
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is associated with anxiety and uneasiness due to obtrusive, uncontrollable thoughts, and/or when refraining from certain actions or rituals


Depending on the specific type of anxiety disorder and the history of the patient, an individual treatment program will be worked out. After completing the diagnostic examination, the relevant factors for the development and the maintenance of the anxiety disorder will be elucidated, and the planned therapeutic procedures will be explained to the patient. The amount of treatment sessions needed varies between 10-15 (for some specific phobias and uncomplicated panic disorders) and 60-80 (e.g. for severe cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder).