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Understanding Different Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is more than a response to a stressful situation. It can prevent people from participating in the activities they enjoy most and keep them from living the life they deserve. In fact, an estimated 40 million adults struggle with anxiety on a daily basis in the United States. Anxiety is incredibly prominent, and it’s important for us to have a better understanding of the illness. There are seven main types of anxiety that individuals experience. Today we’ll look at each type in more detail.

General Anxiety Disorder

General Anxiety Disorder, commonly known as GAD, is the most common form of anxiety. For individuals suffering from GAD, the anxiety seemingly comes from nowhere. Even routine tasks like driving to work or making dinner can set off an anxiety attack, making those tasks nearly impossible to complete.

Most people afflicted by this condition recognize that their anxiety is not appropriate to the stress level of the situation, but once the attack kicks in, they may find it impossible to stop the cycle of stress responses.

Common Symptoms of GAD:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty focusing on the task at hand
  • Restless mind and constant worrying
  • Feelings of being on edge and irritated

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may suffer from GAD. Fortunately, an experienced psychiatrist can help give you the tools you need to combat and control your condition.


Those suffering from agoraphobia find going out in public incredibly difficult and stressful. The very thought of interacting with strangers or being in an unfamiliar place can spark an anxiety attack. While most people diagnosed with agoraphobia can leave their homes to go to work or the grocery store, they often try to avoid public spaces because of the stress it causes them.

Common Symptoms of Agoraphobia:

  • Experiencing intense fear in new or unfamiliar locations
  • Fear of leaving home
  • Constant worrying about interacting with others or performing basic tasks like working or shopping

Agoraphobia is one of the most limiting types of anxiety and warrants seeking professional help as soon as possible.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder makes it difficult for people to interact with others, whether it’s at a social gathering, work, or in a store. At first glance, people suffering from this disorder may just seem shy and embarrassed. While social anxiety disorder may present similar symptoms to those general conditions, the sense of panic behind the self-consciousness is far greater. It moves beyond a concern of embarrassment and becomes a debilitating fear that others are constantly judging your every word and move.

Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Feeling as though others are judging every action
  • Desire to avoid all social interaction
  • Severe feelings of nervousness when speaking to others
  • Sweating, blushing, and shaking when interacting with others

Social anxiety disorder keeps many people from experiencing the joys of social interaction. If you’re struggling with these symptoms, know that you’re not alone. The disorder is relatively common with over 15 million adults experiencing symptoms.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is a serious condition that sparks a debilitating fear response in individuals experiencing stressful events or emotional triggers. These responses are commonly known as panic attacks and can be so severe that the person needs to be hospitalized to keep symptoms from progressing or doing damage to their health.

It is important to note that stressful situations may not always cause panic attacks. In fact, they can be sparked by nothing at all and then compounded by fear of getting another panic attack almost as soon as the first attack ends.

Symptoms of Panic Disorder:

  • Racing heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Chills and cold sweats
  • Nausea

Symptoms of a panic attack can be serious and may require immediate medical attention. If you suffer from panic disorder, there are steps you can take to manage your condition. Work with a therapist and discuss medication options with your psychiatrist.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

While this disorder is common with veterans and soldiers, post-traumatic stress disorder can afflict anyone who experiences a traumatic event. Individuals who survive car crashes or other extreme experiences may suffer from symptoms similar to panic attacks and general anxiety because remembering those events causes tremendous amounts of stress.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Flashbacks to the traumatic event
  • Distancing yourself emotionally
  • Panic and anxiety about the event happening again
  • Anxiety triggered by similar noises, sounds, or events

Symptoms of PTSD will differ from person to person, but the general tendencies all pertain to panic about an initial traumatic event.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Despite the overuse of the term to describe people with very particular tendencies, OCD is an anxiety disorder that causes individuals to become obsessed or be compelled to perform a particular action. For some people, the disorder may be relatively mild and not interfere with daily life, but others may find it debilitating. Individuals with OCD may need to check the lock on the door several times before feeling confident that it’s locked or turn the lights off and on multiple times before entering a room. The compulsions do not have to make sense or follow any logical pattern.

Symptoms of OCD:

  • Inability to break out of a negative thought pattern
  • A need to perform certain tasks in a specific order
  • Inability to move to a different task without first performing the compulsive action

Millions of people suffer from OCD, and the behaviors are all different from person to person. However, seeking help can be critical to controlling the condition and being able to function in daily life.

If you or a loved one are suffering from an anxiety disorder, you’re not alone. Each year, millions of people are diagnosed with different disorders and seek therapy and medication to mitigate the symptoms. An experienced psychiatrist can help you determine the best coping mechanisms and give you the tools you need to overcome your anxiety disorder.

Don’t suffer in silence. Schedule a consultation today.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.