Types of Anxiety - What are the Different Types of Anxiety?
The way someone reacts to stressful situations will differ from person to person. Most of us, at different points in our lives, will show signs of anxiety. These signs include stress, nervousness, worry, or intense fear, and they usually last until the situation or the thing causing stress passes. It is a pretty normal part of life.
However, if your worries and fears persist past stressful events and become an excessively interfering part of daily life, it may be a sign that you have an anxiety disorder.
In this case, having developed an anxiety disorder, you will likely experience overwhelming feelings of anxiousness that can be excessive in quantity and persistent in your daily activities - even when the stressor is not present. These symptoms can be chronic, debilitating, and can even interrupt how you go about your day.
According to Mind, every 6 in 100 people are diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) every week in the UK, with 8 in 100 being diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depression.
Anxiety disorders include:
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety disorder
What are the 8 Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
There are several different disorders that come under the bracket of anxiety. Below, we explain the most common types of anxiety disorders, how they’re diagnosed, and which treatment methods are available.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Someone suffering from generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) will likely have experiences of excessive worry that will often be difficult to manage. These worries usually take the form of rumination, the process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, or spending a lot of time overthinking and mulling over different events that could occur in the future - conceptualising and thinking about how they may play out, and how the person with GAD will deal with them.
It is not an uncommon occurrence to have symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder and not be able to explain why. For those who have GAD, symptoms that are similar to the above are present most days and have been occurring for at least the past six months.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
A person who has obsessive-compulsive disorder often has thoughts that are difficult to control, and they may find themselves repeating certain actions or rituals over and over in order, such as checking that a door is locked or counting things out, to manage these thoughts.
Someone with OCD may be extremely concerned about germs, or having certain things in order - even evolving to worries about feelings of aggression that they have towards others or that someone may feel towards them.
You may receive a diagnosis of OCD from a doctor if you:Spend an hour or more each day having these thoughts or carrying out these
kinds of actions. The thoughts and actions meant to quell these thoughts bring no pleasure. The thoughts and actions have a significant impact on your daily life.
Panic disorder can be characterised by the recurrence of unexpected panic attacks with no warning. These often happen without warning and can result in physical symptoms like:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Symptoms can also involve the feeling of being dissociated from reality or having a sense of impending doom.
A panic attack typically lasts less than 20 minutes but can last longer.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder will experience anxiety symptoms related to a traumatic experience that will have occurred in the past. It is known as a long-term condition that can cause these symptoms of anxiety for many years after the event has taken place - especially when it is left untreated.
Symptoms of PTSD will typically start within 3 months of the incident, and in some cases, they don’t appear until months and even years later. People who suffer from PTSD may experience:
- Bad dreams or nightmares
- Frightening thoughts
- Feelings that trigger tension or anxiety
- Trouble sleeping or insomnia
- Outbursts of anger for seemingly no reason
Some people even change their daily routines in order to avoid triggers that can potentially remind them of traumatic events.
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia)
Social anxiety disorder is also known as social phobia, and it is characterised by feelings of embarrassment, humiliation, or critique in a public setting like school or work.
People who suffer from social anxiety disorder may have difficulty talking to people or being around large amounts of people. It is not an uncommon occurrence for those with social phobias to avoid places and social situations that have the potential to trigger the phobia.
Specific phobias involve a seemingly irrational, overwhelming, and excessive fear of places, situations, events, and/or objects. Some of the most common phobias include the following:
- Arachnophobia: a fear of spiders
- Acrophobia: a fear of heights
- Claustrophobia: the fear of tight spaces
- Aerophobia: a fear of flying
- Haemophobia: the fear of blood
- Trypanophobia: fear of needles
- Aquaphobia: a fear of water
- Trypophobia: fear of small holes
Separation Anxiety Disorder
While most commonly diagnosed in younger children, a separation anxiety disorder can also manifest itself in adults as an extreme fear about something bad happening to a person in their lives.
In children who have separation anxiety who become separated from a parent or loved one, they may display symptoms of fear, panic, worry, and anxiety. However, adults who suffer from this disorder may have extreme fear and worry about something happening to a family member or significant other even when they’re together.
Agoraphobia is often characterised as a frequent response to panic attacks. If you suffer from agoraphobia, you may feel extremely fearful or anxious about having a panic attack or even be fearful about the possibility something bad may happen in a specific place, outside of your home.
This may lead to someone suffering from agoraphobia avoiding a certain place or even confining themselves to home and not leaving. This will be a response to try and take back control and stave off the potential that something bad may happen where support or help is not easily accessible.
Other Types of Anxiety
Some other, less common, symptoms of anxiety can include symptoms like:
Selective mutism Substance or medication-induced anxiety disorder Anxiety due to an underlying medical condition
Some mental health conditions like OCD and PTSD are commonly referred to as anxiety disorders and may have been classified as one, but now have a separate diagnostic category.