Types of Anxiety Disorders
By Christina Radziejewski
What is an Anxiety Disorder
There are 6 main types of Anxiety Disorders:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Specific Phobias
Each of the above type of Anxiety Disorder is characterised by specific behaviors, however, the common symptom shared by all is an excessive amount of irrational fear and worry.
The following is a brief review of some of the characteristics of each of the above anxiety disorders. If you suspect that you have an anxiety disorder, please speak with your counsellor. Together, you would discuss the symptoms you are experiencing, and work out a plan on how you will tackle it, and get it under control
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Thoughts of a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder: “I will not be able to do it”, “Something bad will happen to me”
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is characterized by:
- Excessive worry about everything, even when there is little or no reason to
- General fear that things will go badly
- Inability to relax
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Have trouble sleeping or falling asleep
- Feel tired all the time
- Irritable, light-headed
- Tremble or twitch
Social Anxiety Disorder
Thoughts of a person with Social Anxiety Disorder: “They may laugh at me”, “They will judge me”
Social Anxiety Disorder is characterized by:
- Constant fear about doing things in front of others; extremely self-conscious
- Fears being judged or embarrassed
- Worries for days or weeks before an event that involves meeting new people
- Tends to stay away from places or events where there will be other people
- Difficulty making or maintaining friendships
- May tremble or blush excessively in front of others
- May feel nauseous or sick to their stomach in front of others
- Starts in youth
Thoughts of a person with Panic Disorder: “I am spinning out of control”, “I am having a heart attack”
Panic Disorder is characterized by:
- A sudden and overwhelming attack of intense fear
- Characterized by: difficulty breathing, increased heart rate and pounding heart, tightness around the temples, dizzinesss, hot flashes or chills, sense of choking
- Fears and thinks about when the next attack might occur
- Passes after a few minutes (varies from person to person)
- Starts in late teens/early adulthood
Thoughts of a person with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: “I can’t control my thoughts”
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is characterized by:
- Frequent and upsetting thoughts and images called obsessions, eg, fear of germs, dirt, intruders; violent acts; hurting others; being tidy
- Overwhelming urge to repeat behaviors or rituals called compulsions, eg, repeated washing of hands, checking/locking doors, hoarding, counting
- Starts in childhood or teenage years
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Thoughts of a person with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: “It’s happening to me again”.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized by:
- Having seen or experienced an upsetting or traumatic event, eg, a violent crime, a car accident, a disaster, war, death of a loved one.
- Flashbacks, or a “re-experiencing” of the incident, nightmares, angry outbursts, avoidance of places where the incident occurred, trouble sleeping, feeling worried/guilty/sad and on edge.
- Some will experience dissociation.
Thoughts of a person with Specific Phobias: “I know it’s irrational”.
Specific Phobias are characterized by:
- An intense and irrational fear for specific situations which poses little or no danger.
- Exposure to feared object or situation leads to severe anxiety or panic attack.
- Common fears: heights, animals (dogs, snakes), insects (spiders), situational (driving, flying, body of open water such as a lake or sea), blood (needles, injections, surgeries), clowns.
- Avoidance, or extreme nervousness in anticipation of a feared situation.
- Starts in childhood, may develop in adulthood.
Anxiety Disorders are treatable with therapy, and/or a combination of therapy and anti-anxiety medication. How anxiety is treated will depend on the severity of the problem, your medical history, and any co-existing medical and psychological conditions.