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Keefe Disability Law
Social Security Disability & Supplemental Security Income
Toll Free 888-904-6847
Call 508-283-5500
Fax 508-309-6954

Anxiety Disorders and Massachusetts Social Security Disability

Mental disorders are the second most frequently qualified Social Security disability overall. One type of disorder, anxiety, can cover a wide range of impairments. An estimated 18% of Americans suffer from one of these sometimes debilitating anxiety disorders.

Generally, anxiety disorders include any disorders that cause pathological anxiety and fear and can be classified under two headings, episodic (occurring occasionally) and continuous (never lets up). Some of the best-known anxiety disorders include:


  • Panic disorder: Also known as "panic attacks" - the sufferer experiences brief periods of intense fear, accompanied by shaking, heart racing, confusion, breathing difficulties and nausea. Often the person feels that he/she is having a heart attack. The triggers are not always evident.
  • Panic disorder with agoraphobia: This disorder begins with panic attacks, which cause the person to avoid what they think triggered them. As a result, he or she may rarely or never leave the home in order to avoid an attack.
  • Phobias: Phobias make up the largest category of anxiety disorders, with 5% to 12% sufferers worldwide. Phobia causes the person to experience extreme anxiety and fear from a specific trigger. Almost anything can be a trigger, from a barking dog to dirt. Even though a phobic person knows he is overreacting, he cannot stop the fear.
  • Social anxiety disorder (SAD): SAD is a phobia that can become severe enough to cause the sufferer to avoid all social situations. Symptoms include sweating, racing heart, blushing, trouble speaking and much more.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): This anxiety disorder begins with obsessions (thoughts or images that constantly appear) and compulsions (ritual behaviors done repeatedly). For instance, obsessive thoughts of disease may lead to the compulsion to constantly wash the hands.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSD is caused by a severely traumatic experience like combat, child abuse, rape, bullying, or natural disaster. The victims may be overly vigilant, have flashbacks, experience severe anxiety, be angry or even depressed.


Anxiety disorders can be caused by biological factors like low levels of a neurotransmitter called GABA. Alcohol abuse or dependence on certain prescription drugs can greatly complicate the condition. Even caffeine can cause symptoms in sufferers. Stress is the other main cause.

Many people learn to live with anxiety disorders, but they can be treated, and sufferers should seek medical help early. Psychotherapy and medication are common treatments.

If you or a loved one suffers from an anxiety disorder that interferes with work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. For a free and honest case review, call Keefe Disability Law toll free at 888-904-6847. We help clients in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law

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