Understanding the 6 Major Types of Anxiety Disorders
The 19th Century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, “To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…and to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self.”
What does that mean to those of us that are struggling with something more severe than “traditional” anxiety? What does that mean for those of us that struggle with anxiety disorders? Ultimately, it means that getting help may be scary but worthwhile. While putting off getting help may delay discomfort, it will soon dissipate and may be even more detrimental.
The 6 Types of Anxiety Disorders
Many people believe that anxiety disorders are a “one-size-fits-all” issue. Of course, this is not the case. There are actually six major types of anxiety disorders:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Panic disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder
- Phobia-related disorders
Establishing a better understanding of these anxiety disorders can be crucial in being able to determine if you or someone you love is experiencing something more severe than the common human condition of anxiety. In discussing these various anxiety disorders, we will also be discussing some of the symptoms to be aware of. This information is critical in determining if seeking treatment is the right next step.
Understanding Anxiety Disorders
While there are six types of disorders, they do still fall under the same umbrella category of “anxiety disorders.” So, it makes sense to first establish a broader understanding of what anxiety disorders exactly are.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines anxiety disorders in contrast to “normal” anxiety. They explain that “[A]nxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear…the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time” and that “[S]ymptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, schoolwork, and relationships.”
Ultimately, some good takeaways from this definition are anxiety disorders often do not simply go away on their own. They tend to get worse if not treated; however, they most likely greatly interfere with everyday life. Now let’s take a look at the six types of anxiety disorders.
Breaking Down the 6 Major Types of Anxiety Disorders
It’s important to note that phobia-related disorders are the most recent categorization of anxiety disorders, which is why many sources still strictly name the first five. However, it is now widely accepted in the psychology and treatment industries that phobia-related disorders deserve their own distinction.
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers great definitions of these first five anxiety disorders, while the phobia-related disorders are well discussed in the previously discussed archived information in the National Institute of Mental Health.
They are as follows:
#1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD is a chronic anxiety disorder that involves intense worry and tension even when it is not warranted.
Some symptoms of GAD include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
#2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
OCD is a disorder characterized by obsessive and unwanted thoughts and repetitive behaviors. These behaviors often include “rituals,” which can provide some relief but, if not performed often, increase anxiety.
Some of the symptoms of OCD include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- An inability to perform daily activities due to excessive ritualistic behaviors
- Excessive repetition such as handwashing or cleaning to the point of physical discomfort
- A fear of dread if certain behaviors are not performed
#3. Panic Disorder
Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder that often comes on suddenly and involves repeated instances of intense fear which often involve traumatic and frightening physical symptoms.
Some of these symptoms include:
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Stomach pains
- Shortness of breath and dizziness
#4. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
PTSD is an anxiety disorder that involves struggles with previously experienced trauma. These traumas often involve life-threatening events, physical violence, and natural disasters, among many other things.
Some symptoms of PTSD include:
- Experiencing severe and intense flashbacks of the traumatic event or events
- Feeling excessively irritable
- Acting more aggressively than usual
- Experiencing suicidal ideas, committing self-harm, or attempting suicide
#5. Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is an anxiety disorder defined by the excessive uneasiness felt in typical social situations. This uneasiness can be felt in certain situations, or it can also be more overarching to anytime an individual is in a social situation.
Some of the symptoms of social anxiety are:
- A racing heart rate
- Feelings of self-consciousness and a fear of being judged
- Trembling, especially in the hands
- Difficulty interacting comfortably with other people
#6. Phobia-Related Disorders
The National Institute of Mental Health defines phobia as “an intense fear of — or aversion to — specific objects or situations.” It is also important to remember that while many people are afraid of certain things, people struggling with a phobia have anxiety that is out of proportion to the situation.
Symptoms of phobia-related disorders include:
- Excessive worry about an object or situation
- Experiencing uncontrollable fear in specific situations or around specific objects
- Avoiding certain situations or objects, which can interfere with the quality of life
There Is Help for Anxiety Disorders
The iconic American naturalist, Walter Anderson, said, “Nothing diminishes anxiety faster than action.” This is true for any of these anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders come in many forms, which is why it is important to get help in determining what type of disorder you may be struggling with. Regardless of the anxiety disorder, there are highly effective evidence-based ways to treat all of them. Whether it is psychotherapeutic, pharmacological, or neuropsychological, there are options to help you get past your issues of anxiety. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be struggling with an anxiety disorder, reach out for help today. Call The Pheonix Recovery Center today at (801) 438-3185 for more information.