As the stigma associated with mental health gets broken, more and more different types of anxiety are coming to the limelight. Prior to this happening, you likely had no idea what this awful feeling was burrowing up inside of you, let alone that it’s an actual illness that comes in many forms. To put it simply, there are various types of cancer – lung cancer, throat cancer, stomach cancer, bone cancer, etc. and there are just as many different types of anxiety.
It’s crucial to know the different types of anxiety because not all anxiety treatment options are equal. An online treatment program for social anxiety isn’t going to be as effective for someone who has PTSD. So, discover what type of anxiety disorder you have and find the best type of anxiety treatment specific to your condition to maximize your results and progress.
Most Common Anxiety Disorders
Most of you will likely fall under the most common different types of anxiety. As reported by the Canadian Mental Health Association, absolutely everyone is directly or indirectly affected by anxiety at some point, whether through a family member, friend, colleague or themselves.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Approximately, 6.8 million people in America are affected by General Anxiety Disorder, a condition described as excessive worrying, tension or fear about everyday things that most people usually don’t usually experience a constant dread over, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America. With this type of anxiety, there is no phobia or fear connected to a specific thing or situation – you just have experience continuously anxiety throughout the day. It may even feel like normal worrying but the difference is that GAD involves worrying that is:
It’s also very likely to co-exist with other different types of anxiety. However, GAD is often less intense than a panic attack. Instead, it’s living with a constant fear or exaggerated worry, despite there being little to nothing to provoke it. An unanswered text can mean the person doesn’t want to talk to you, but it’s more likely to mean that the person is simply busy and unable to answer. While the end of the world could happen, it’s highly unlikely.
Generalized Anxiety Triggers
Triggers for Generalized Anxiety Disorder can vary per person. For myself, I fear throwing up or having to immediately leave something or somewhere that is of importance, such as a meeting, interview, family dinner, etc. Most people don’t fear getting sick because they know that it’s a normal part of life, and if it happens, people will understand. As for me, it’s the end of the world.
Other generalized anxiety disorder worries or triggers may be:
- Worrying about falling out of a moving vehicle when the car turns
- Seeing a normal thunderstorm and going into a panic about a tornado when your area never experiences tornadoes
- A text-message going unanswered makes you think your friend hates you
- Hearing people joke about the end of the world which makes you panic and prepare for an apocalypse
Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder
For someone who suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, you likely find yourself worrying about things that can happen but that are highly unlikely. You may also experience the follow symptoms:
- Feeling like you can’t turn off the anxious thoughts
- Constantly worrying about things, all the time, on repeat
- Heart palpitations
- Worrisome thoughts
Having a Panic Disorder means you experience sudden waves of intense terror. Approximately 6 million Americans experience this type of anxiety, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
The intense sensations of panic typically come out of nowhere, are entirely unexpected and completely debilitating. Despite only lasting a couple of seconds to 30 minutes, a panic attack can leave you feeling exhausted and unable to continue with your day. This often leads to fearing another panic attack in the future, which creates more anxiety and increases your chances the frequency in which you experience them.
Panic Disorder Triggers
While the triggers for panic attacks aren’t always clear, they’re often caused by a specific situation, especially if that situation caused you to have an attack before.
For example, I once threw up in a restaurant when I was a child. I was scolded which made me fear throwing up. As a result, I had a panic attack the next time I was at a restaurant which lead me to having an attack every time I went to a restaurant in the future. The restaurant was my trigger.
However, the following can also trigger panic attacks:
Symptoms of Panic Disorder
Most people describe a panic disorder as feeling like they’re dying but I’ve never felt that way. I just feel like I am going to be insanely sick. So, as you read about the different types of anxiety, remember that these are generalized based on common cases.
With that said, some symptoms of panic disorder include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Trembling or shaking
- Feeling like you’re choking
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling detached from your surroundings
- Hot or cold flashes
- Feeling like you’re dying or out of control
Social Anxiety Disorder
After 20 years of suffering from anxiety, this is one of the very different types of anxiety I can’t relate to 100%. I have very minor social anxiety disorder, which only stems from my panic disorder However, I know many people who do suffer from social anxiety disorder, as it is the most common with 15 million Americans experiencing SAD, according to Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
This type of anxiety is often described as being an intense fear of judgement in social or performance situations. You experience an intense fear of embarrassment or humiliation, to the point where you avoid dating, traveling, socializing, etc.
For me, I experience Social Anxiety Disorder because I fear what people think if I have a panic attack. However, I am completely fine with public speaking, large groups, big parties, talking, going out, etc. but I do fear the judgements of others if I was to have an attack in any of these situations. I fear the what ifs, as opposed to the event itself.
To put it into perspective, I scored 12 out of 90 possible points on the free, online Social Anxiety Test from the Social Anxiety Institution. It says I don’t have Social Anxiety Disorder but I know I experience symptoms of it.
Triggers for Social Anxiety Disorder
There are many Social Anxiety triggers, with some of the most common ones being:
- Introducing yourself to strangers
- Being the center of attention
- People watching you
- Making small talk
- Avoiding conflict and anger
- Public speaking
- Performing on stage
- Being criticized or teased by others
- Talking with authority figures or people of importance
- Going on a date
- Using the phone for voice calls
- Having to use public bathrooms
- Taking an exam
- Eating or drinking in a public place
- Speaking up in a meeting
- Exiting a social interaction that has run its course
- Attending parties or other informal social events
- Hosting a party
- Networking at a professional event
Symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder
Similar to the prior, there’s a vast array of the social anxiety symptoms, with the following being the most common:
- Fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach or nausea
- Confusion or feeling “out-of-body
- Trouble catching your breath
- Muscle tension
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one of the different types of anxiety, which is why I often talk about Relationship OCD. It’s described as being repeated, unwanted thoughts or routines that are unusual or that interfere with everyday living. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 2.2 million americans suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
To put it into perspective, most women experience the worry of leaving their hair iron on every time they leave the house but it becomes OCD when you return to your house several times to make sure it’s off, yet still have that intense feeling of worry that it’s on. You know it’s not but you can’t stop the anxious thoughts.
Some people experience this with the stove being on after they’ve left the house, or touching door knobs for fear of germs, or washing your hands excessively to prevent disease. OCD is basically doing something excessively to prevent something bad from happening. It’s an exaggerated fear that results in exaggerated action.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder triggers can range all across the board. However, most OCD rituals are triggered by a stressful event, such as being involved or witnessing something like a car accident or a house fire, seeing a family member die, etc. The common Obsessive Compulsive Categories include:
- People who are afraid of contamination
- People who repeatedly check things that they associate with harm or danger
- Doubters and sinners
- People who are afraid that if everything isn’t perfect or done just right something terrible will happen
- Counters and arrangers
- People who are obsessed with order and symmetry
- People who fear that something bad will happen if they throw anything away.
Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Considering the previous information, the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vary depending on the type of OCD one is experiencing.
For examples, washers excessively wash their hands, homes, car, bodies, etc., whereas checkers constantly check things on repeat. As such, common symptoms include:
- Constantly double-checking things
- Locks, appliances, switches, etc.
- Repeatedly checking in on loved ones
- Constantly counting, tapping, or another action to reduce anxiety
- Repeating certain words to alleviate anxiety
- Spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
- Ordering or arranging things and feeling anxious if they’re disrupted
- Accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a different types of anxiety that has been brought into the limelight lately as a result of veteran suicides following the recent wars. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 7.7 million Americans suffer from PTSD.
This type of anxiety is often described as a disorder that occurs following a terrifying experience or witnessing a life-threatening events. It makes you feel intense shock, even by the slightest things, such as a firework or banging on the door, etc.
Triggers for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder vary per person and are prompted by various events, with some of the most common ones being:
- Serving in the military
- Being the victim of sexual abuse
- Witnessing a deadly house fire
- Being in a car accident that took a life
- Experiencing a terrorist incident
- Surviving a natural disaster
- Being the victim of physical abuse
Symptoms of PTSD
Similar to the prior, the symptoms of PTSD vary per person and situation. Some of the most common ones are:
- Reliving the traumatic experience in a daydream or nightmare
- Distressing memories or dreams you can’t control
- Negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, the world or others
- Persistent and often distorted self-blame
- Constant fear, anger, guilt, shame or horror
- Estrangement from others
- Inability to experience positive emotion
- Irritable, destruction, reckless or aggressive behaviour
- Hyper vigilance
- Constantly feeling jumpy or being startled
Different Types of Anxiety that are Specific or Not-So-Common
Many different types of anxiety can then be broken down or linked to more specific types of anxiety, such as someone suffering from PTSD or Social Anxiety may avoid leaving their house, which grows into Agoraphobia. Here are the other types of anxiety you may relate to.
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 19 million Americans suffering specific phobias. These people often avoid different situations, places, objects, or people for fear of danger or something and happening, despite there being no threat. Some common phobias include:
- Coulrophobia (Excessive fear and worry about clowns)
- Islamphobia (Irrational fear of all muslims)
- Agoraphobia (Fear of leaving your house)
- Arachnophobia: Fear of spiders
- Acrophobia: Fear of heights
- Claustrophobia: Fear of closed spaces
- Mysophobia: Fear of germs
People use these terms all the time, even when they don’t apply. When something is a phobia, it’s debilitating and it interferes with your life. Most phobias are caused from trauma experienced with that specific item or situation. For example, no one likes spiders and some of us even avoid them but that doesn’t mean you’re an arachnophobia.
Separation Anxiety is when someone experiences intense levels of distress when separated from a loved one, caregiver, pet, etc. The stress is so extreme that they’re unable to function and live a normal life without that someone. Some children experience this with their parents, some animals experience it with their owners, some adults experience it with their loved ones, and rarely but in some cases, adults do develop separation anxiety.
Often referred to as Hypochondria, illness anxiety disorder pertains to the excessive worry about being ill or sick. Even after various medical tests and proof that one isn’t ill, someone suffering from this type of anxiety still believes they are becoming ill. Often times, this intense level of anxiety can lead them to becoming sick or showing signs of illness, despite having good health.
As you can see, there are many different types of anxiety and each one is different from the next. So, if you’re still unsure as to what type of anxiety you have, take this free, online Anxiety Test. I also recommend making an appointment with your doctor if you’re concerned about your mental health and wellbeing.