Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps one deal with a tense situation in the office, study harder for an exam or maintain focus on an important speech. In general, it helps us cope with life’s ever-changing situations.
But when anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it has become a disabling disorder.
If anxiety becomes persistent in your life, we suggest you make an appointment with one of our behavioral health professionals.
There are five major types of anxiety orders.
Five major types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is an anxiety disorder that is characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry about everyday things that is disproportionate to the actual source of worry. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals suffering GAD typically anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friend problems or work difficulties. They often exhibit a variety of physical symptoms, including fatigue, fidgeting, headaches, nausea, numbness in hands and feet, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, bouts of difficulty breathing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, insomnia, hot flashes, and rashes.
Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce anxiety, by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing anxiety or by combinations of such thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). The symptoms of this anxiety disorder range from repetitive hand-washing and extensive hoarding to preoccupation with sexual, religious or aggressive impulses. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and economic loss. In the United States, one in 50 adults has OCD.
Panic Disorder is characterized by unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms that may include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress. People with panic disorder have feelings of terror that strike suddenly and repeatedly with no warning. During a panic attack, most likely your heart will pound and you may feel sweaty, weak, faint or dizzy. Your hands may tingle or feel numb, and you might feel flushed or chilled. You may have nausea, chest pain or smothering sensations, a sense of unreality, or fear of impending doom or loss of control. These attacks typically last about ten minutes, but can be as short-lived as 1–5 minutes and last as long as twenty minutes or until medical intervention. However, attacks can wax and wane for a period of hours (panic attacks rolling into one another), and the intensity and specific symptoms of panic may vary over the duration.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. People with PTSD have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to. They may experience sleep problems, feel detached or numb, or be easily startled. Some diagnostic symptoms include re-experience, such as flashbacks and nightmares; avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma; and increased arousal, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, anger and hypervigilance.
Social Phobia or Social Anxiety refers to excessive social anxiety causing considerable distress and impaired ability to function in at least some areas of daily life. The diagnosis can be of a specific disorder (when only some particular situations are feared) or a generalized disorder. Generalized social anxiety disorder typically involves a persistent, intense and chronic fear of being judged by others and of potentially being embarrassed or humiliated by one’s own actions. These fears can be triggered by perceived or actual scrutiny by others. While the fear of social interaction may be recognized by the person as excessive or unreasonable, considerable difficulty can be encountered overcoming it. Approximately 13.3 percent of the general population may meet criteria for social anxiety disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to the highest survey estimate, with the male to female ratio being 1 to 1.5.