The 7 types of anxiety (characteristics, causes and symptoms)

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common reasons people turn to psychotherapy. This type of psychological disorder exhibits typical symptoms of extreme activation of the nervous system, and these are usually emotional, physiological, and cognitive (of thought).

However, in order to overcome this form of discomfort, it is important to know its variants well. This is why here we will review the different types of anxiety disorders through a summary of their characteristics, get to know them one by one and distinguish them from one another.

Anxiety disorders: a very common pathology

We all have had anxiety from time to time. It’s a normal emotion. You may have felt your symptoms just before a test, because of a problem with work, or because you had to make an important decision.

Indeed, anxiety is a normal reaction of people to situations of stress and uncertainty. The problem arises when various anxiety symptoms cause anxiety or some degree of functional impairment in the life of the individual who suffers from it, as it affects the functioning in different areas of their life. For example: social and family relationships, work, school. Then the anxiety disorder is diagnosed.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychological disorders. However, with the right treatment, people who suffer from it can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Since there are notable differences between the different types of anxiety disorders, in today’s article we explain the different types of anxiety:

1. Generalized anxiety disorder

Many people experience anxiety or worry from time to time, especially when faced with situations that can be stressful: speaking in public, playing a football game that matters a lot, or being too busy. go to a job interview. This type of anxiety can make you alert, helping you be more productive and get your job done more efficiently.

People who suffer Generalized anxiety disorder (ADD)But they experience anxiety and worry most of the time, not just in potentially stressful situations. These worries are intense, irrational, persistent (at least half the days for at least 6 months) and interfere with the normal functioning of their daily life (activities such as work, school, friends and family) because they are difficult to control.

  • You can read more about the symptoms. the causes and treatment of this pathology in the article: “Generalized anxiety disorder: symptoms, causes and treatment”

2. Panic disorder

the panic disorder it is a very debilitating anxiety disorder and different from ADD. Although generalized anxiety disorder is known as trait anxiety because it is more lasting, panic disorder it is called a state of anxiety because its symptoms are acute.

People with panic disorder experience feelings of death or the possibility of running out of air, which can cause psychological and physical problems. In fact, the sensation can be so intense that it requires hospitalization.

In summary, the panic attack is characterized by:

  • The presence of recurring and unexpected panic attacks
  • Worry after having a panic attack that another is going to occur, at least for a month.
  • Worry about the implications or consequences of a panic attack (how to think that a panic attack is a sign of an undiagnosed medical problem). For example, some people have repeated medical tests because of these concerns and, despite the negative test results, still have fears of discomfort.
  • Significant changes in behavior related to panic attacks (such as avoiding activities such as exercise, when heart rate increases).

Panic attacks reach their peak in 10 minutes and usually last up to half an hour, making the person feel tired or exhausted. They can occur several times a day or only once every few years.

  • To learn more about panic attacks, see our article: “Panic Attacks: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment”

3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Anxious thoughts can influence our behavior, which can sometimes be positive. For example, thinking that you left the oven on might lead you to go check it out. however, if these types of thoughts are recurring, it can lead an individual to engage in unhealthy behaviors.

the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) it is characterized by the fact that the individual who suffers from it has intrusive thoughts, ideas or images. These cause anxiety (obsessions) and cause the person to perform certain rituals or actions (compulsions) to reduce the discomfort.

Some examples of obsessive thoughts are: fear of contamination or a feeling of doubt (for example, will I have locked the door?), Among others. Compulsions are, for example: washing hands, repeatedly checking that the door is closed, counting, repeatedly organizing things, etc.

On the other hand, it should be borne in mind that OCD is a hybrid disorder, which is sometimes not considered to be part of anxiety disorders but impulse control disorders or in their own category, the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.

  • In our article “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): What is it and how does it manifest?” you can dive into this psychopathology

4. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

this condition it occurs when the person has experienced a traumatic situation that has caused him great psychological stress, Which can be disabling. When the person relives the fact that the trauma caused it, they may experience the following symptoms: nightmares, feelings of anger, emotional irritability or fatigue, disaffection with others, etc.

Because of the great anxiety that the individual feels. he may try to avoid situations or activities that remind him of the event that caused the trauma. Traumatic events can be, for example. a serious traffic accident, sexual abuse, torture during the war …

  • Learn more about the anxiety disorder that can appear after a major emotional shock in our text: “Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD”

5. Social phobia

the social phobia it is characterized by an irrational fear of situations of social interaction. For example, people with this type of anxiety disorder they experience crippling anxiety when they have to speak in public, Because they are afraid of being judged, criticized, humiliated and think that others will laugh at them in front of others. Social phobia is a serious disorder and some people may even suffer from talking on the phone or eating in front of other people.

While these people know that they shouldn’t feel so bad about triggering situations, they cannot control their fear and anxiety, so they often avoid such situations. It’s common to confuse social phobia with shyness, but not all shy people have social phobia. According to a study published in the Journal Pediatrics in 2011, only 12% of people timidly meet the criteria for social phobia.

We tell you more about this study and social phobia on this link.

6. Agoraphobia

the agoraphobia it is often associated with an irrational fear of being in open spaces such as high streets or parks. In reality, the agoraphobe being a strong anxiety produced by situations in which he feels unprotected and vulnerable in the face of anxiety attacks that are beyond their control. Through Therefore, fear is not produced by these spaces per se, but by the consequences of being exposed to this place, in which one feels helpless. This means that in the most severe cases the patient may be confined to the house as a form of avoidance.

If you want to learn more about agoraphobia, click here.

7. Specific phobia

a specific phobia is an anxiety disorder characterized by a strong irrational fear of a stimulus, for example, a situation, object, place, or insect. The person with a phobic disorder does everything to avoid this stimulus that causes you anxiety, and this avoidance behavior can interfere with the normal functioning of your daily life.

There are many specific phobias, some very strange. Some phobias are known and others less, such as coulrophobia or fear of clowns, philophobia or the fear of falling in love, amaxophobia or the fear of driving.

  • The DSM IV manual distinguishes between five subtypes of specific phobias. Meet them in this article: “Types of phobias: exploring fear disorders”

Bibliographical references:

  • Bonnot O, Herrera PM, Tordjman S, Walterfang M (May 19, 2015). Secondary psychosis induced by metabolic disorders. Frontal neuroscience.
  • Hofmann SG, Dibartolo PM (2010). Introduction: Towards an Understanding of Social Anxiety Disorder. Social anxiety.
  • Stephan WG, Stephan CW (1985). Anxiety between groups. Journal of Social Affairs.
  • Nestadt, G .; Samuel, J .; Riddle, MA; Liang, KI et al. (2001). The Relationship Between Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety and Affective Disorders: Findings from the Johns Hopkins OCD Family Study. Psychological medicine 31.

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