About Anxiety Disorders

Unlike other anxiety disorders, GAD can arouse anxiety in almost any situation, without a specific trigger. In fact, many people suffering from this disorder are anxious all the time and the focus of their concerns shift frequently.

The following are often indicators of GAD, especially when more than one symptom occurs, for any period of time:

  • Persistent anxiety with no identifiable cause
  • Tendency to worry a great deal
  • Irritability; edginess
  • Muscle tension
  • Heart palpitations
  • Nausea; upset stomach
  • Cold, clammy hands
OCD is a disorder where the individual is plagued by uncontrollable obsessions and compulsions that interfere with his/her daily functioning. It is an anxiety disorder that can start at any age, although most commonly it begins in childhood through to early adulthood. While it is a waxing and waning disorder, if left untreated, it can escalate in severity over time.

Obsessions are characterized by persistent, irrational ideas or images that keep returning again and again. Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that are intended to prevent or correct some dreaded event. The most common obsessions are repetitive thoughts, impulses or images that are anxiety provoking. They occur against one's will, are intrusive and persistent and are, often, personally repugnant. These can include:

  • Fear of becoming contaminated
  • Fear that something terrible might happen if something isn't done correctly
  • Fear of causing offense
  • Fear of throwing something away that might be important
  • The urge for things to feel just right
  • Scrupulous or religious thoughts

To further ensure the best and most appropriate treatment, OCD program is divided into two departments:

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Panic Disorder

An experience of a sudden rush of intense fear or anxiety, lasting between five to ten minutes may indicate a panic attack. These attacks can occur unexpectedly at any time or place, such as in crowds, work or on the freeways. Symptoms usually include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling that something terrible is about to happen, like fainting, a heart attack, going crazy of losing control


Agoraphobia is a condition that often accompanies Panic Disorder. It is characterized by intense anxiety and panic when a person finds him/herself in certain situations such as driving, using elevators, going into stores, traveling long distances or being alone. A pattern of avoidance often develops in reaction to concerns about not being able to escape or get help in an anxiety-producing situation.

For further information on Panic Disorder/Agoraphobia and its treatment, please call the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic (310) 206-5133

Often after experiencing a severe trauma such as, but not limited to, an accident, a death of a relative, or a war experience, excessive anxiety can develop. A person may feel like they are experiencing the same traumatic event over and over, in dreams or in flashbacks. They may also become nervous, withdrawn, lose interest in activities and no longer derive pleasure from social contacts. These symptoms can continue many years after the traumatic event.

For further information about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, please contact us at: UCLA Trauma Psychiatric Service (310)794-1076

Social Phobia is concerned with excess fear of being negatively evaluated by others. Social phobics feel they will be humiliated or embarrassed and, as a consequence, they avoid situations in which their actions may be observed. Some of the more common anxiety provoking situations include:

  • Public speaking
  • Eating in front of others
  • Being in a group of people

Evaluation and treatment is available for this disorder. For further information, please contact us at: UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic (310) 206-5133

Some people have exaggerated fears of certain objects or situations. Although, they usually recognize that the fears are excessive and irrational, the objects are still avoided. Examples of specific phobias include:

  • Animal
  • Flying
  • Blood and injections
  • Heights
  • Driving
  • Closed in places

Unlike Agoraphobia, these fears are single and isolated.

For further information on Specific Phobia and its treatment, please contact: UCLA Anxiety Behavioral Program (310) 206-9191

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a body image disorder in which individuals are preoccupied with a perceived flaw in physical appearance, which can result in severe functional impairment and suffering. Individuals with BDD usually focus on one or more aspects of their appearance, such as skin, nose, hair, eyes (or any other part of their appearance), which they believe to be defective or ugly. Individuals with BDD often feel depressed, anxious and ashamed. Their degree of anguish and distress is such that it interferes with their day-to-day activities such as work, school, or social situations.

BDD is believed to affect 1-2% of the general population. It also affects as many as 6-14% of those in mental health settings presenting with an anxiety or depressive disorder, 10-15% of those in dermatology settings, and 6-15% in cosmetic surgery settings.

People with BDD frequently compare their appearance to others and check their appearance in mirrors or other reflective surfaces. They often camouflage their perceived flaw with make-up, hair, or clothing. They may change their body position to only allow people to see them from certain angles or in certain lightinig conditions. Other behaviors include mirror avoidance, skin picking and seeking out dermatologists or plastic surgeons with the hope they can overcome the distress by changing the perceived defect.

For more information, view the Body Dismorphic Disorder website.

Other Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can manifest in unexpected ways, such as medical problems. These can include thyroid problems, low blood sugar, middle ear problems, cardiac issues and gastric symptoms.

A comprehensive medical examination comprising of a careful history, chest x-rays, ECG and a full battery of blood tests (blood chemistry and thyroid included) can detect many of the above problems.

For people who can manage their anxiety disorders on a weekly, outpatient basis, UCLA Outpatient Anxiety Disorders Clinic provides both Behavior Therapy and Medication Management. It treats all anxiety disorders, including OCD, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, Social Phobia and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The clinic also offers an extensive evaluation and treatment program. If you are uncertain about which course of action may be most appropriate for you, please use the number and assistance will be provided.

For further information, please contact us by calling the UCLA Anxiety Disorders Clinic (310) 206-5133