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Anxiety Disorder, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits

For more information on:   Social Security Disability and SSI Disability.

Anxiety disorder is a nervous system disorder that affects the emotional state. Anxiety disorder causes anxious, fearful emotions that are usually thought of as irrational, meaning they are worries that are not based on factual information.

The cause of anxiety disorder is not fully understood. Doctors think the cause is linked to neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine and serotonin, but they also acknowledge that it is likely that anxiety disorder stems from an intricate web of causes including genetics, environment, life experiences and the body’s biological processes.

The signs and symptoms of anxiety disorder are quite varied, from irritability, muscle tension, shortness of breath, stomachache, feeling on edge and being easily distracted to diarrhea, panic attacks and headache. Many people experiencing anxiety disorder feel extremely anxious, as if an impending ‘doom’ is right around the corner, as if something bad is about to happen though there is no reason for the fear.

The term anxiety disorder covers a variety of different types of disorders; the most common are generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

General anxiety disorder is when the worries and fears are general and not focused on one particular object, event or reason.

Panic disorder is diagnosed when the patient suffers ‘attacks’ of intense terror that cause dizziness, difficulty breathing, shaking, confusion and nausea. These attacks usually last ten minutes or less, but can sometimes last much longer.

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is when the fear of being embarrassed or humiliated causes extreme anxiety, sometimes to the point that normal life is interrupted. Many with social anxiety disorder do not want to leave the house for fear of being judged negatively by society.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder that is marked by repetition and ritualistic behavior. Usually this obsession or compulsion is a way to relieve anxiety or nervousness. Those with obsessive-compulsion disorder often have upsetting and repetitive thoughts and images play in their mind. Many times they feel compelled to do certain things in certain ways to keep bad things from happening. Often this will include common things like checking to make sure the door is locked, obsessing over personal items or arranging things in a certain way.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that is usually the result of a traumatic experience, from warfare or violence to extreme stress. Those with the disorder may avoid certain places or things in order to not increase their anxiety.

Diagnosis for anxiety disorder includes an assessment/questionnaire, family history, reports from the patient and a medical examination. Those with anxiety disorder oftentimes also have symptoms of clinical depression and vice-versa. Treatment can include congnitive behavioral therapy and/or medications such as anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants and beta-blockers. Some people choose natural and alternative treatments such as acupuncture, hypnotherapy and relaxation techniques.

To help prevent anxiety disorder get plenty of rest, eat a balanced, healthy diet, engage in physical activity, eliminate caffeine, avoid alcohol and drugs and take time to relax and de-stress. Some people report that yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques have helped their anxiety.

Return to:  Social Security Disability Resource Center, or read answers to Questions

Related Body System Impairments:

Can You qualify for Social Security disability or SSI on the basis of anxiety or panic attacks?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Filing for Disability
Panic Attacks and Filing for Disability
Anxiety Disorder, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Anxiety Attacks and Filing for Disability
Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder and Filing for Disability
Social Security Disability SSI and ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Filing for Disability
ADHD, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
Facts about ADHD and Filing for Disability
OCD and Filing for Disability
Alcoholism and Filing for Disability
Bipolar disorder, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits
PTSD, Social Security Disability, and Applying for Benefits

Information on the following topics can be found here: Social Security Disability Questions and in these subsections:

Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits | FAQ on Disability Claim Representation | Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved | FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions | The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration | Disability hearings before Judges | Medical exams for disability claims | Applying for Disability in various states | Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers | Applying for Disability in North Carolina | Recent articles and answers to questions about SSD and SSI

These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria