Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by exaggerated feelings of worry, stress, fear, and nervousness.
The major types of anxiety disorders include: generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, substance-induced anxiety disorder, situational anxiety, selective mutism, and separation anxiety disorder.
In this article, we will discuss the most common types of anxiety disorders, so let’s start.
|Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities.|
What are the Most Common Types of Anxiety Disorders?
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is the body's natural reaction to stressful situations, leading to stress, nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry. But it becomes a disease when it occurs without triggering.
The American Psychological Association (APA) has defined anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.”
When faced with anxious triggers or potentially harmful events, feelings of anxiety are not only common but also necessary for survival.
Since the early days of humanity, the imminent danger and approach of predators have set off body alarms and allowed a person to be disturbed.
These alarms become noticeable in the form of heartburn, sweating, and surrounding sensitivity.
An adrenaline, also known as the “fight-or-flight hormone” helps your body react more quickly and prepares you to face physical challenges or to avoid any danger to safety.
Adrenaline is released in response to an exciting, dangerous, stressful or threatening situation.
Anxieties and concerns revolve around demands for a person's attention without work, money, family life, health, and other serious issues that necessarily require the ‘fight-or-flight’ response.
A person's life needs a basic 'fight-or-flight' response before or after a difficult circumstance or feeling worried and nervousness during a difficult situation.
It may still be necessary to survive - the worry of being killed by a car while crossing the road, for example, means that a person will instinctively look for ways to avoid danger.
What is Anxiety Disorder?
Anxiety disorder is a mental health condition characterized by exaggerated feelings of worry, stress, fear, and nervousness that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities.
The more disorders, the more they interfere in the person's daily life and affect the quality of life.
Anxiety disorder is a common disorder in the middle of Europe and the United States of America.
Feelings of anxiety and panic are out of proportion to the actual threat, difficult to control and may last for a long time.
Feelings of anxiety and panic are out of proportion to the actual threat, difficult to control and may last for a long time.
Anxiety disorder is a group of mental health-related conditions, each with unique symptoms.
Symptoms may begin during childhood or adolescence and may continue into adulthood and they vary from person to person.
People with anxiety disorder usually experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness
- Lack of concentration, unwanted thoughts or racing thoughts
- Performing certain behaviors over and over again
- Being high alert to danger signs
- Anticipating the worst
- Feeling tense or jumpy
- Feelings of apprehension or dread
- Feeling tense or jumpy
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Sweating, twitches, and tremors
- Having an increased heart rate
- Shortness of breath or pounding
- Frequent urination, diarrhea, or upset stomach
- Headaches, fatigue and insomnia
When someone feels anxious, their body goes on high alert, looking for potential danger and activating their fight or flight responses.
Some moments of anxiety are briefer than others, ranging from a few minutes to a few days.
For most people, feelings of anxiety come and go, just for a short period of time.
There are many anxiety disorders; the major types of anxiety disorders include GAD, specific phobias, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, OCD, separation anxiety disorder, and selective mutism. People often have more than one anxiety disorder. Here are the details of the most common anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD):
Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common chronic disorder characterized by long-term fears, persistent and excessive worry about uncertain life events, objects, and conditions accompanied by three or more of the following symptoms:
Constant worry, severe anxiety or fear, restlessness, fatigue, insomnia, nausea, difficulty falling asleep, light-headedness, or sweating, irritability, hypervigilance, unwanted thoughts, lack of concentration, emotional distress, palpitations or trembling.
People with a generalized anxiety disorder may be prone to disaster and may be overly concerned about health, family, money, work or other issues.
Individuals with GAD may find that they have problems making daily decisions, but do not remember obligations due to lack of concentration/bias with anxiety, finding it difficult to control their anxiety.
Causes of and risk factors for GAD may include: recent or prolonged exposure to stressful situations, excessive use of caffeine or tobacco, a family history of anxiety and childhood abuse. People with GAD are not always able to determine the exact cause of anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder:
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational fear and anxiety.
People with social phobia experience severe anxiety or fear of being condemned, judged, humiliated, negatively evaluated or rejected in social performance.
Social anxiety disorder often reveals specific physical symptoms, including blushing, sweating, and difficulty speaking. An acute fear can be specific to particular social situations or, mostly, is experienced in most (or all) social interactions.
Social physical anxiety (SPA) is a subtype of social concern. This is a matter of concern over others' evaluation of someone's body.
SPA is common among adolescents, especially among women. As with all serious disorders, people suffering from social anxiety will often try to avoid the source of their concern; this is especially problematic in case of social concern, and in serious cases, social segregation can be completed.
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by a sudden episode of intense fear, reoccurring unexpected panic attacks and feelings of terror that trigger severe physical and psychological reactions when there is no apparent cause.
Panic disorder is usually followed by fearful experiences or long-term stress but can also happen without a trigger.
The APA defines panic disorder as an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unpredictable panic attacks that are associated with (a) worry about the possible consequences of the attacks, (b) persistent anxiety about another attack, (c) a significant change in behavior related to the attacks.
A panic attack suddenly falls in less than ten minutes and can run peaks for several hours.
The panic attack can be triggered by irrational thinking, fear of the unknown or general fear or even exercise. However, sometimes triggers are unclear and attacks can occur without any warning.
A person facing a panic attack can misinterpret life as a dangerous disease.
People with panic disorder also experience symptoms outside of specific terror episodes. Often, normal changes in heartbeats are seen by a panic sufferer, making them feel that there is something wrong with their heart or they are going to attack another panic.
Identifying the trigger can help to prevent the attack. It is being said that all attacks cannot be stopped. The short or sudden attack of intense panic and apprehension is characteristic of panic disorder.
To avoid future attacks, there may be drastic changes in behavior. Moving from these attacks can lead to confusion, dizziness, nausea, and difficulties in breathing.
In some cases, a heightened awareness of the body functioning occurs during panic attacks, in which any known physical change is interpreted as a possibly life-threatening disease.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which a person is afraid and avoids places or situations that may cause panic, helplessness or embarrassment.
Agoraphobia is a specific fear about being in a place or situation where running is difficult or embarrassing or where assistance may be unavailable. A common expression requires the continuous view of the door or another escape route.
Agoraphobia is strongly associated with panic disorder and often comes out of fear of panic attacks. In addition to fearing itself, the word agoraphobia is often used in the context of avoidance behaviors that sufferers often develop anxiety on driving and therefore, avoid driving.
Specific phobia, formerly called simple phobia, is any type of anxiety disorder that amounts to persistent and unreasonable fear or irrational trauma related to exposure to certain things or situations.
Specific phobia is the only major category of anxiety disorder in which fear and anxiety is triggered by a specific stimulus or condition in all cases.
When people come in contact with their fear, they can experience trembling, shortness of breath, or heartbeat of a strong heart.
People understand that their fears are not as the real potential threat but are still overwhelmed by it.
Many people experience specific phobias: severe and unreasonable fears of certain things or situations. These may include heights, flying, highway driving, tunnels, escalators, water, dogs, scorpions, and blood injuries, among many others.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD):
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition characterized by failure to recover after witnessing or experiencing a terrifying event, causing nightmares, flashbacks and severe anxiety.
In the past, it was an anxiety disorder, but it has now shifted to trauma- and stress-related disorders in DSM-V.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) research began with Vietnam veterans as well as natural and non-natural disaster victims.
Studies have shown that the degree of exposure to disaster is considered to be the best prediction of PTSD.
Post-trauma stress can be a painful experience and as a result of an extreme situation, such as natural disasters, hostage situations, rape, child abuse, bullying, war or even a serious accident.
It can also be from chronic exposure to long-term chronic stress.
Common symptoms include hypersensitivity, flashback, preventive behavior, anger, anxiety and depression. Apart from this, people can experience unrest in sleep.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD):
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is an anxiety disorder in which a person has unwanted, excessive thoughts, recurring ideas or sensations (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions).
OCD is a situation in which a person is obsessed (disturbing or persistent thoughts and images) and compulsions (urges to do certain acts or rituals frequently), which are not caused by drugs or physical order, and which cause social distress or disorder.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects approximately 1-2 percent of adults (more women than men) and less than 3 percent of children and adolescents.
A person with OCD knows that the symptoms are unreasonable and a struggle against thoughts and behavior. Their symptoms may be related to external events they fear (such as burning their house down because they forget to close the fireplace) or worrying that they will behave improperly.
Substance-Induced Anxiety Disorder
Substance or medication-induced anxiety disorder is severe anxiety or panic caused by taking medications, misusing drugs, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
The anxiety would not be occurring without substance abuse.
Although some symptoms are specific to the fact that a substance is triggering anxiety, symptoms of this disorder are often shared with symptoms associated with other anxiety disorders.
The most common symptoms may include:
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Being afraid of losing control
- Constantly thinking that bad things are going to happen
- Shaking and tremors
- Chest pain and pounding heartbeat
- Problems breathing
- Difficulty sleeping
- Chills and sweats
- Stomach problems such as diarrhea or nausea
Read here: The psychology behind Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, and Complications of Addictive Disorder
Situational anxiety is a distinct type of anxious response that occurs during unusual situations or events that make a person so nervous that he loses control of his ability to calm.
Situational anxiety is due to changes in events or new circumstances. It can also be caused by various incidents that make that particular person uncomfortable. Its phenomenon is very common. Often, a person will experience extreme anxiety in specific circumstances or panic attacks.
It is a situation which causes a person to feel anxiety, it cannot affect any other person. For example, some people become uncomfortable in crowded or tight places, so they may have to face severe anxiety, possibly a panic attack.
However, others may face anxiety when there are major changes in life, such as entering college, going to interviews, marrying, having children, etc.
Selective Mutism (SM):
Selective mutism is a complex childhood anxiety disorder in which a child normally capable of speech cannot speak in specific situations or to some people. Selective mutism is usually present with shyness or social anxiety and typically begins in preschool.
The child prevents himself from verbal responses with select individuals or in certain social situations, although there is no barrier to speech.
Children with SM can speak and communicate in settings where they feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.
Selective mutism is closely related to other anxiety disorders, especially social anxiety disorder.
In fact, most children diagnosed with selective mutism also have a social anxiety disorder.
People who have selective mutism remain silent even when the consequences of their silence include bad conscience, shame, social ostracism, embarrassment or even punishment.
This disorder affects about 0.8 % of people at some point in their lives.
Separation Anxiety Disorder:
Separation anxiety disorder is a condition in which a person experiences extreme anxiety and becomes fearful and nervous when away from home or separated from a loved one with whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment.
Separation anxiety is a normal part of development in children or babies and it is a feeling of the excessive and unreasonable level of anxiety when it is separated from a person or place.
Separation anxiety disorder affects about 7 % of adults and 4 % of children, but childhood cases are more serious; in some cases, even a brief separation can cause panic.
The treatment of a child with this anxiety can stop problems. This may include training parents and family on how to handle a child. Often, parents will strengthen anxiety because they do not know how to work properly with the child.