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Feature: Phobias and
Anxiety Disorders

Symptoms: Personal snapshots of anxiety disorders

A woman with a worried look on her face

Some symptoms among different anxiety disorders are similar; others are specific to particular disorders. Comments by anxiety-disorder patients illustrate the often paralyzing effects of these conditions:

Panic Disorder: "For me, a panic attack is almost a violent experience. I feel disconnected from reality. I feel like I'm losing control in a very extreme way. My heart pounds really hard, I feel like I can't get my breath, and there's an overwhelming feeling that things are crashing in on me.”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: "I was raped when I was 25 years old. For a long time, I spoke about the rape as though it was something that happened to someone else…there was just no feeling. Then I started having flashbacks. They kind of came over me like a splash of water. I would be terrified. Suddenly, I was reliving the rape. Every instant was startling. I wasn't aware of anything around me, I was in a bubble, just kind of floating. And it was scary.”

Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): "In any social situation, I felt fear. I would be anxious before I even leftthehouse, anditwouldescalateasIgotclosertoacollegeclass, a party, or whatever. I would feel sick in my stomach—it almost felt like I had the flu. My heart would pound, my palms would get sweaty, and I would get this feeling of being removed from myself and from everybody else.”

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: "I always thought I was just a worrier. I'd feel keyed up and unable to relax. At times it would come and go, and at times it would be constant. It could go on for days. I'd worry about what I was going to fix for a dinner party, or what would be a great present for somebody. I just couldn't let something go.”

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: "Getting dressed in the morning was tough, because I had a routine, and if I didn't follow the routine, I'd get anxious and would have to get dressed again. I always worried that if I didn't do something, my parents were going to die. I'd have these terrible thoughts of harming my parents. That was completely irrational, but the thoughts triggered more anxiety and more senseless behavior. Because of the time I spent on rituals, I was unable to do a lot of things that were important to me.”

Read More "Phobias and Anxiety Disorders" Articles

Don't Panic! / Studying Anxiety Disorders / Symptoms: Personal snapshots of anxiety disorders / Treating Anxiety Disorders

Fall 2010 Issue: Volume 5 Number 3 Page 14