Anxiety disorders come in many different shapes and sizes. Some people might experience only one type of anxiety disorder in their lifetime, while others may experience multiple types. Keep reading to learn about the different types of anxiety disorders and how they can impact your life.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
In the DSM-5, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry. Individuals with GAD typically experience some or all of the following symptoms: restlessness, feeling on edge, easily fatigued, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance.
The worry in GAD is often unrealistic or disproportionate to the actual likelihood of negative events occurring. GAD can be extremely impairing and can significantly reduce your quality of life. If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder such as GAD, an anxiety therapist can help you manage your symptoms. Your health care provider or insurance company can refer you to a mental health professional who specializes in anxiety treatment.
Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorders
Substance or medication-induced anxiety disorders are a type of anxiety disorder that is caused by the use of drugs or alcohol. These disorders can include panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and social phobia. The symptoms of these disorders can be very similar to those of other types of anxiety disorders, and it can be difficult to determine if the symptoms are due to the use of substances or to an underlying mental health condition.
People who experience substance or medication-induced anxiety disorders often find that their symptoms disappear when they stop using drugs or alcohol. However, it is important to note that these conditions can also persist even after people have stopped using substances. In some cases, it may be necessary to seek treatment for both the substance abuse and the anxiety disorder.
Phobias are a type of anxiety disorder where people experience intense fear or anxiety in response to certain objects or situations. Phobias can be very specific, such as a fear of spiders, or more general, such as a fear of heights. They can also range in severity from mildly inconvenient to completely disabling.
Some of the most common types of phobias include social phobia, agoraphobia, and specific phobia. Social phobia is the fear of social situations where you may be judged or embarrassed. Agoraphobia is the fear of being in places where escape might be difficult or embarrassing. Specific phobia is the irrational fear of a particular object or situation, such as spiders or flying.
Phobias can develop at any age but are most common in young adults and adolescents. They can be treated with therapy and/or medication but often require a lot of courage on the part of the person with the phobia to seek treatment.
Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder that is characterized by recurrent panic attacks. A panic attack is an intense feeling of fear or terror that abruptly peaks within minutes and often includes symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal discomfort. These symptoms can be so severe that they cause people to feel like they are having a heart attack or are about to die. This type of anxiety disorder affects approximately 2.7 million American adults and is twice as common in women as men.
The cause of panic disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be caused by a combination of biological and psychological factors. Some people may be more prone to developing panic disorder due to their genes or biology, while others may develop the condition due to stressors or traumatic life events. People with this anxiety disorder often have negative thoughts and beliefs about themselves and their abilities, which can lead to avoidance behaviors and further distress.
Treatment typically includes medications such as antidepressants or antianxiety drugs, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and/or exposure therapy. CBT focuses on helping people change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their panic attacks. Exposure therapy involves gradually exposing people to the things that trigger their anxiety in a safe and controlled setting.