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April 2013
04

Mental Illness Master Post #1 (Anxiety Disorders)

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So, originally I was going to do one GIANT post about mental disorders. But then, while writing, I was like, “LET’S CHANGE THAT BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS YOU ALL NEED TO KNOW!” 

I have decided to do this in different posts to make it more organized and not-so-long and etc. 

While WriteWorld has an AMAZING post on mental disorders/illness, and I have also written an article about this for Yeah Write’s The Yeah Write Review Issue 02 (and you can BUY a digital issue by clicking on that link!), I figured The Writers Helpers needed one as well. This will be more of an informative post than a “How-to-Write” post, but research is key, right?

That being said, let’s get started.

Anxiety Disorders

People (especially adults) having an anxiety disorder isn’t so uncommon. In fact, it is estimated that around 20% of adults have at least one kind of anxiety disorder.

General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that affects many. It is defined as an anxiety disorder where a person has excessive worry, anxiousness, uneasiness, or nervousness for a period of 6 months or longer (*to be diagnosed officially). It usually appears alongside substance abuse, depression, and other anxiety disorders such as PTSD. Therapy and learning ways of coping and relaxation are the common treatments for GAD. Antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds are usually used alongside these treatments for full effect. (For a forum, click here!)

Social Anxiety Disorder (also known as Social Phobia) is an anxiety disorder that makes the person fear being judged or embarrassed by/in front of others. It can become so bad that people with this disorder may avoid going to school or work for fear of being judged. People may only have the phobia for certain occasions, or they may have it in any social instance. It is genetic, so if your character were to have it, someone in the family would also have it. Medication and therapy is used to treat/control this disorder. (Want additional information/a forum? Click here!)

The following is part of the article I wrote for the Yeah Write Review Issue 02 (be sure to click the link at the beginning of this article to purchase a digital copy. The full article is on page 22!):

The two most common anxiety disorders are Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). With OCD, you need to be more careful not to generalize the entire disorder by, let’s say, making your character wash their hands for exactly a minute and forty-five seconds in order to ward off infection and disease. If you’re going to make your character possess OCD, research the different types of OCD and make the disorder essential to the character’s personality. The following are some of the different compulsions that are found with OCD: excessive counting, excessive fear of germs, checking and rechecking actions, and repeatedly washing hands. Symptoms of OCD usually appear by the age of thirty. These compulsions can cause great distress if the person is not able to follow their routine, and it can very well interfere with their daily lives. Persons with OCD are often in treatment with medication and therapy to control their compulsions, thus you must keep in mind that this will be part of your character’s daily or weekly routine. Treatment will generally improve a person’s symptoms of OCD.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is caused by experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. According to PubMed Health, PTSD can occur at any age, and can be caused by the following: rape; terrorism; domestic abuse; prison; assault; and war.  For example, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, many people who witnessed or lost a family member now experience fear of traveling to the point it will cause a panic attack. Panic attacks are not the only symptom of PTSD. Most commonly, PTSD is seen in veterans that often have nightmares, feel detached, or have flashbacks. Like OCD, you need to be careful not to generalize PTSD and give your character an actual reason to have it. For instance: if your character was raped, was he or she raped only once as a random victim, or were they tortured by a family member for years? Think about the repercussions and the severity of what led your character to have PTSD. PTSD often causes depression, feeling that there is no future, and avoidance of certain places or people. PTSD may need more research than another disorder due to the different symptoms (and there are many), severity of events that caused the character to have PTSD, and the different methods of treatment afterward.

Click here for a PTSD forum

Click here for an OCD forum

As always, ask any questions if you have them! And ALWAYS, ALWAYS do research. You can NEVER research too much. 

-H

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