Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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Anxiety disorders and Social Security Disability: Part I

Anxiety; panic; compulsive behavior; fear; distracting thoughts that won’t go away – these are all feelings that nearly everyone has experienced at one time or another. For most of us, the feelings are attributable to a specific circumstance and they will go away once the problem is resolved. Others are not so fortunate, however.

If you suffer from an anxiety disorder, you understand that these feelings can dominate your life if left untreated. Even with treatment, however, the symptoms of anxiety disorders can still make it very difficult to continue working a job.

First, let’s define what we’re talking about. The website for the Anxiety and Depression Association of America has information on a number of common anxiety disorders, their symptoms and treatment options. Well-known (but often misunderstood) conditions include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

For individuals suffering from generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, the severity of the symptoms varies, often unpredictably. As such, working or engaging in normal social activities may be only a little challenging when symptoms are mild.

But because panic attacks and other severe symptoms can crop up unexpectedly, individuals with GAD and PD can understandably feel like a ticking time-bomb waiting to explode. Embarrassment about having an “episode” is yet another consequence of these already debilitating disorders.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is another condition that is well-known but widely misunderstood. Many people jokingly describe themselves as having OCD whenever they experience a desire to feel especially neat and organized. This is not true OCD, which is characterized by uncontrollable and obsessive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors. Those who suffer from OCD often realize that their thoughts and behaviors are irrational but cannot seem to stop.

This obviously makes it very difficult to continue working. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America’s website notes that severe OCD symptoms “can interfere with a person's normal routine, schoolwork, job, family, or social activities. Several hours every day may be spent focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals. Trying to concentrate on daily activities may be difficult.”

If you suffer from any of the disorders we mentioned in today’s post, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. Check back later this week as we discuss the application process in more detail.

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