CASA of Arizona

Anxiety Disorders - pg. 2

Separation Anxiety Disorder



Some separation anxiety is normal for infants and toddlers to experience. But separation anxiety is not normal for older children and adolescents. If an older child experiences separation anxiety, the child may be developing separation anxiety disorder.

For a separation anxiety to be considered a disorder, it must last at least one month and affect one or more aspects of the child's life. The child can suffer insomnia, dizziness, depression, lack of concentration, nausea, heart palpitations, and may even have nightmares. Separation anxiety causes a child to cling to his parents. The child can actually feel that the parent will be injured, die, or some how removed from the child permanently. This can result in the child shunning school, friends, and any activities that take place outside of the home. The disorder can be over diagnosed in children and adolescents who live in dangerous neighborhoods.

The exact cause of separation anxiety disorder is not known. There are some risk factors that have been associated to separation anxiety in children. Children who suffer from this disorder tend to come from close-knit families. The disorder can develop after an illness, move, or death in the family. The disorder may also have a genetic trait similar to panic disorder, but the precise factors have not been isolated.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder



Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a combination of two issues that can greatly hinder a person's life.

Obsessions are persistent, intrusive thoughts or impulses that are perceived to be inappropriate or forbidden. The obsessions are not like the thoughts that the person normally has and cause the individual a great deal of anxiety. The person's fear lies in the thought that he may lose control and actually act upon his thoughts or impulses. Common themes include contamination with germs, personal doubts, symmetry, or loss of control of sexual or violent impulses.

The acts performed to try to get rid of the obsessions are called the compulsions. The compulsions do not give the person pleasure; instead, they are only a tool the person uses to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts the person uses to keep the dreaded event from occurring. OCD is equally common in both men and women.

OCD typically begins between adolescence and adulthood for men and in young adulthood for women. The severity fluctuates, but behavior tends to worsen as stress in life increases. Obsessive-compulsive disorder has been shown to have a familial pattern. In studies of identical twins, if one twin has OCD, the other twin is more likely to also have OCD than in cases involving fraternal twins.

OCD can be treated successfully with medication and personalized psychotherapy.


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