Anxiety is marked by disabling fear and uncertainty. An anxiety disorder can last for several months and may get worse if not treated. It can cause physical symptoms such as chest pains or sleep disturbances such as nightmares. Anxiety may also cause problems in relationships or in work or school performance. Specialists at Ohio State Behavioral Health can help determine if you have an anxiety disorder and create a personalized treatment plan for you.

Common anxiety conditions include:

Panic disorders or panic attacks, which are sudden feelings of terror when there is no real danger. You may feel as if you are losing control. Panic attacks can happen anytime, anywhere and without warning. For some people, fear of an attack takes over their lives and they cannot leave their homes. Panic attack symptoms can include a fast heartbeat, chest/stomach pain, breathing difficulty, weakness/dizziness, sweating, heat/chill sensation and tingling/numb hands. Treatment may include medication and psychotherapy to change thinking and behaviors.

Obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder (OCD) is marked by frequent, upsetting thoughts called obsessions. To try to control these thoughts, a person with OCD may feel an overwhelming urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors. These are called compulsions. Examples of obsessions are a fear of germs or a fear of being hurt. Compulsions include repetitive hand washing, counting, checking on things or cleaning. With OCD, these thoughts and rituals cause distress and get in the way of normal daily living. OCD can have a family connection. Symptoms often begin in children or teens. Treatments include therapy and medication.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a an illness that can occur after living through or seeing a traumatic event, such as war, a hurricane, sexual assault, physical abuse or a bad accident. PTSD makes a person feel stressed and afraid, even after the danger is over. It can affect all aspects of a person’s life as well as the lives of family, friends and co-workers.

Symptoms may occur immediately after an event or much later.  Symptoms may include:

  • Flashbacks, or feeling like the event is happening again
  • Trouble sleeping or nightmares
  • Feeling alone
  • Angry outbursts
  • Feeling worried, guilty or sad

Treatment may include medication and therapy. Treatment may be short-term or ongoing.

Through its STAR (Stress, Trauma and Resilience) Program, Ohio State is a national leader in research on the effects of trauma and in educating health care workers on how to deliver trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed care means that staff understand the dynamics of trauma and the impact it can have on mental as well as physical health. Providers rely on evidence-based and best practice care models while involving patients in decisions about the treatments they will receive. Care is provided in a culturally sensitive manner based upon the patients needs.

Phobias are strong, irrational fears of something that poses little or no real danger. Acrophobia is a fear of heights. Agoraphobia is a fear of public places. Claustrophobia is a fear of closed-in places. Social phobia is marked by extreme anxiousness or self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Other common phobias involve tunnels, highway driving, water, flying, animals and blood.

People with phobias try to avoid what they are afraid of. If they cannot, they may experience: 

  • Panic and fear 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Trembling
  • A strong desire to get away 
The cause of the phobia may not be known. Treatment may include medication and psychotherapy to change thinking and behaviors.


Learn more about brain and spine neurological conditions at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.