Experiencing life while living with an anxiety disorder can be extremely difficult. And while quite common, anxiety is one of the most complex mental health conditions. This is because the types of anxiety disorders people struggle with are vastly different, and marked by varying symptoms. At HPA/LiveWell, in Albany, New York, our aim is to increase education and awareness about the different types of anxiety disorders, with the hopes that more people will seek treatment.
Types of Anxiety Disorders
Generally speaking, there are five common types of anxiety disorders.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) – this is by far the most common anxiety disorder, affecting over 3% of the population in the United States, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. GAD tends to permeate, to some degree, every aspect of a person’s life. This anxiety disorder creates constant worry and ruminating thoughts. These thoughts frequently lead to expectations of the worst possible outcome. These worries and the resulting anticipation of a perceived disaster affect the ability to concentrate, stay present, and participate fully in everyday life.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – also often referred to as social phobia, this anxiety disorder affects a person’s ability to function in social situations. Often, those with social anxiety disorder experience a sense of overwhelming fear and a sense of self-consciousness when interacting with others. For many, simply thinking about upcoming social situations is enough to provoke this fear.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – this anxiety disorder is characterized by recurrent or repeated thoughts (obsessions), which often drive the urge to act in repetitive ways (compulsions). Some of the more common OCD compulsions are around cleanliness (hand washing), checking (locks, ovens), or counting. The compulsions usually come up as a way to manage the obsessive thoughts, with the hope of making them go away. Unfortunately, in the end, the compulsive behaviors actually end up reinforcing the thoughts.
- Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – due to a certain traumatic experience (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.), many experience flashbacks, nightmares, and difficult memories. These things become intrusive in one’s life, creating significant anxiety and a decreased sense of well-being.
- Panic Disorder – the onset of panic and fear occur suddenly with this disorder. Of all the types of anxiety disorders, panic disorder seems to have the most physical symptoms. Racing heart, sweating, and chest pains are all common to panic disorder. These physical symptoms can increase to such a level of intensity where people mistake the panic for a heart attack. To learn more about the symptoms of panic disorder, click here.
Although the above-mentioned types of anxiety disorders are some of the most common, there are others. Because anxiety is such a common struggle, and presents in so many different ways, those in the mental health field are frequently expanding the list of anxiety disorders.
Click here to learn more about these and other types of anxiety disorders.