Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mental illness in the United States. Each year, about 18% of adults experience an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders can be disabling and prevent you from enjoying everyday life. However, there are many different types of anxiety disorders, so you can find one that best describes your own situation.
In this blog post, we will discuss 10 different types of anxiety disorders. Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list – please speak to a doctor if you think you may have an anxiety disorder.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
This is the most common type of anxiety disorder. People with generalized anxiety disorder experience chronic and excessive worry about various topics, even when there is little or no reason to worry.
It is characterized by excessive worry about various topics, including your health, work, family, or finances. People with generalized anxiety disorder experience excessive worry and stress about everyday events. They may also have physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension.
You can treat this disorder with medication, therapy, or both. These interventions can help you understand your thoughts and feelings and give you tools to manage your anxiety.
Social Anxiety Disorder
This can be defined as a fear of social situations, such as parties, which you might consider anxiety-provoking. This type of anxiety disorder is characterized by intense fear or anxiety about social situations, such as meeting new people, public speaking, being around large groups of people, and activities that require interaction with others.
People with social anxiety disorder often worry about being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated in social situations. It can lead to avoidance of social situations and isolation.
This can make going to work, school, or social events challenging. Social anxiety disorder has varied anxiety treatment options with medication, therapy, or both.
Panic disorder is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks. A panic attack is a period of intense fear or discomfort that comes on suddenly and peaks within minutes.
During a panic attack, you may have physical symptoms such as a racing heart, sweating, shaking, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, or dizziness.
Panic attacks can happen anytime and often happen without apparent reason. Therefore, people with panic disorder often worry about having another panic attack and may avoid places where they have had a panic attack.
Therapy helps by teaching you how to manage your anxiety and understand your triggers. The therapist can also help you understand your thoughts and feelings during a panic attack.
OCD is characterized by obsessions (recurrent, unwanted thoughts) and compulsions (repetitive behaviors or mental acts that you feel you must do to relieve the anxiety caused by the obsessions).
For example, someone with OCD may be obsessed with germs and contamination. They may compulsively wash their hands or clean their house to relieve the anxiety. However, this only provides temporary relief, and the obsessions and compulsions often become more severe over time.
OCD can be treated with exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing the person to what they are afraid of (such as dirt or germs) while helping them learn that their anxiety will decrease over time.
A phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation. Common phobias include heights, flying, public speaking, and blood. People with phobias often go to great lengths to avoid what they are afraid of.
For example, someone who fears flying may never take an airplane, even if it means missing out on an important event.
Phobias can be treated with exposure therapy, which involves gradually exposing the person to what they are afraid of while helping them learn that their anxiety will decrease over time.
The idea behind exposure therapy is that by repeatedly exposing the person to what they are afraid of, they will eventually learn that their anxiety will decrease over time. This type of therapy is often used to treat phobias.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur after someone has experienced a traumatic event. Traumatic events can include natural disasters, car accidents, sexual assault, or war.
People with PTSD may have flashbacks of the event, feel isolated and alone, and avoid anything that reminds them of the trauma. They may also experience anxiety symptoms, such as trouble sleeping and feeling on edge.
Some people may need medication to help with their symptoms, while others may only need therapy. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) is a type of therapy that is effective for treating PTSD.
Acute Stress Disorder
Acute stress disorder is a disorder that occurs after a traumatic event. People with acute stress disorder may have symptoms of PTSD, such as flashbacks of the event, feeling isolated and alone, and avoiding anything that reminds them of the trauma.
However, acute stress disorder symptoms are usually less severe than those of PTSD, and they last for a shorter period.
There is no specific treatment for acute stress disorder, but several therapies may be helpful. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), and exposure therapy.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder is a type of anxiety that occurs when a person is away from home or separated from a loved one. It is characterized by fear and anxiety when separated from a loved one, such as a parent or guardian.
People with separation anxiety disorder may have difficulty sleeping, sweating, and palpitations. Children with a separation anxiety disorder may also have trouble sleeping away from home, going to school, or participating in other activities away from their loved ones.
Treatment for separation anxiety disorder typically includes cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure therapy.
Anxiety prevents a person from speaking in certain situations, such as school or work. People with selective mutism may speak freely at home or with close friends but cannot speak in other situations.
It can be highly debilitating and prevent people from being able to function in their everyday lives.
Children with selective mutism may also have trouble speaking to adults outside their immediate family. Treatment typically includes behavioral therapy, speech therapy, and medication.
A type of anxiety that causes a person to avoid situations where they may feel trapped, in danger, or cannot escape.
People with agoraphobia often fear crowds, public places, or being alone outside their homes. It can make it difficult to go to work, school, or even leave the house. It can be highly debilitating and prevent people from living their lives.
Treatment for agoraphobia typically includes exposure therapy, which gradually exposes the person to situations they are afraid of. It can be done in a safe and controlled environment, such as with a therapist.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also help change thoughts and beliefs, contributing to anxiety. Medication is prescribed to help with anxiety and panic symptoms.
There are many types of anxiety disorders, each with its symptoms and treatment options. If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, speak to a doctor or mental health professional. Proper diagnosis and treatment will make it possible to manage the symptoms and enjoy everyday life.