Common anxiety types and how you will treat them.

While anxiety is an umbrella term used to express a feeling of uneasiness, dread, or fear, not all anxiety types and symptoms are alike. Many patients suffering from anxiety experience more than one type of symptom and the symptoms often persist and take over your life. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition across the world.

Let’s take a look at the various types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms:

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder – If you have Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD, you will worry obsessively to a point where it becomes difficult to manage. This anxiety takes over the form of rumination, overthinking, and worrying about events of the future or the past. Some of the main diagnostic criteria for GAD include:
  • Irritability
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Restlessness or feeling on the edge
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating

GAD is characterized by 6 months or more of exaggerated anxiety or tension that is unfounded or more excessive than the normal anxiety that most people experience.

  1. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by repeated, unwanted thoughts(obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). People with OCD may find themselves repeating actions or activities over and over. For instance, some individuals with OCD tend to obsess about germs and or keeping things in order. They may repeat tasks such as hand washing, counting, checking things, or cleaning. They often perform these ‘rituals’ to help their feeling of obsessive thoughts. While anyone may have thoughts or habits that may be repetitive, OCD is diagnosed when thoughts or actions
  • Take up at least an hour a day
  • Are beyond one’s control
  • Are not enjoyable
  • Hamper your work, personal or social life

When left untreated, OCD can become severe, and ‘avoidance’ may become a major theme in a person’s life.

Anxiety Types

  1. Panic Disorder – The main symptom of panic disorder is frequent panic attacks when the sufferer feels an overwhelming combination of physical and psychological stress. The attack can cause several other anxiety symptoms such as:
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling of numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Choking sensation
  • Palpitations or rapid heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Stomach pain
  • Fear of dying

The symptoms associated with an ongoing attack are quite severe and often individuals going through them might believe they are experiencing a heart attack or other life-threatening illness. Panic attacks also occur with other psychological disorders such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

  1. Social Anxiety Disorder – Social anxiety disorder also called social phobia causes extreme nervousness and fear in social settings, and a feeling of being watched and judged by others. The fear of being embarrassed, criticized, or humiliated in a public setting like work or school is so strong that people aren’t able to participate or talk with people. People with social phobia try their best to avoid these types of situations. Sometimes social phobia is limited to only one type of situation such as fear of speaking in public or eating in front of others. Often social phobia is specific when individuals fear a specific scenario (such as being assertive at work).

  1. Phobias – Phobias cause excessive and irrational fear responses. People suffering from phobias experience a deep sense of panic or dread when they encounter the trigger for their fear. The fear can be caused by anything. The severity of phobias also varies from annoying to severely debilitating. Some common types of phobias include:
  • Social phobia (social anxiety disorder)
  • Acrophobia (fear of heights)
  • Claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces)
  • Pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying)
  • Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
  • Hemophobia (fear of blood)
  • Trypanophobia (fear of needles)
  • Aquaphobia (fear of water)

The impact of fear or discomfort when confronted with their fears is so intense that patients experience physical symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and panic attack.

  1. Separation Anxiety Disorder – Separation anxiety disorder is an extreme fear of losing or being away from an attachment figure or a loved one. The attachment figure could be a parent, a child, a caregiver, a significant other, or siblings. While separation anxiety is considered a normal part of childhood development, it disappears around the age of 2. Fear of separation can cause anxiety-related behaviours in children or adults such as:
  • Clinging to parents
  • Extreme crying
  • Physical illness
  • Violent outbursts
  • Poor performance at school
  • Repeated nightmares related to separation
  • Constant anxiety that something bad will happen

A separation anxiety disorder may begin in childhood but may continue well into the teenage years and adulthood. It requires treatment and often leads to panic disorders or other anxiety disorders at a later stage.

  1. Last but not least – There are other, less common types of anxiety that include:
  • Selective mutism
  • Substance or medication-induced anxiety disorder
  • Anxiety disorders caused by other medical conditions

Doctors and mental health experts can diagnose and will use diagnostic tools and guidance to determine the problem and recommend a treatment plan. Anxiety can feel paralyzing and all-consuming but with therapy and medication, you can treat the symptoms and improve the quality of your life.