4 Types of Anxiety Disorders Explained

Anxiety, the body’s natural response to stress, involves a strong feeling of fear, uneasiness or dread surrounding what’s to come. Everyone experiences anxiety at times; the first day of school, the day before a big speech, or going to an interview are all events that can cause anxiety.

However, some people have extreme cases of anxiety that last longer than several months and interfere with their daily lives. These are all symptoms of an anxiety disorder. There are several different types of anxiety disorders and they each involve different key symptoms and worries.

Panic Disorders

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People who are diagnosed with a panic disorder experience sudden feelings of terror that strike repeatedly and without warning. Signs and symptoms of a panic disorder include sudden attacks of fear, intense worry about experiencing future panic attacks or fear of going to places where previous panic attacks have occurred. Physical symptoms during a panic attack include nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness or a racing heart.

Factors that may increase the risk of a panic disorder include a family history of panic disorders, major life stress or changes, a history of abuse or excessive caffeine intake. Treatment options for the 6 million Americans who have panic disorders include medication, psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Social Anxiety Disorders

Also known as social phobia disorders, people diagnosed with a social anxiety disorder have extreme feelings of fear and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. Signs and symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include intense anxiety in social situations, a fear of being judged by others, avoidance of social situations and physical symptoms of anxiety while in social situations such as sweating, nausea, dizziness and shortness of breath.

Factors that may increase the risk of having a social anxiety disorder include a family history of social anxiety, a history of negative social experiences such as bullying or public humiliation and a history of abuse. Treatment options for the 19.2 million Americans who have a social anxiety disorder include counselling, CBT and medications.

Specific Phobias

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A specific phobia is an extreme fear caused by the thought or presence of a certain situation or object, such as spiders, heights, flying or public speaking. Signs and symptoms of a phobia include an unreasonable level of fear of a specific situation or object, avoiding the object or situation or enduring it with extreme discomfort, physical symptoms of anxiety or anticipatory anxiety, which involves becoming nervous of a certain object or situation before encountering it.

Risk factors for specific phobias include age (most phobias are developed by age 10), a negative temperament, a family history of specific phobias and trauma. Treatment options for the 19 million Americans who have a specific phobia include desensitization, flooding (prolonged exposure to the phobia in a controlled environment), graded exposure and support groups.

Generalized Anxiety Disorders

Generalized anxiety disorders (GADs) are characterized by constant, excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things and situations. Signs and symptoms of GAD include ongoing worry and tension, an unrealistic view of problems, being easily startled and physical symptoms of anxiety.

Risk factors for generalized anxiety disorders include genetics, abnormal brain chemistry, stressful environmental factors and the use of addictive substances. Treatment options for the 6.8 million Americans who have a generalized anxiety disorder include medication, CBT and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

If you feel as though you may have an anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with a doctor. He or she will listen to your concerns, help you to find relief for your anxiety and perform any tests needed to determine how best to move forward. There is always someone there to help you feel better.

Treatment options for the 6.8 million Americans who have a generalized anxiety disorder include medication, CBT and relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

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