Types of Anxiety: Unraveling Anxiety Disorders

Types of anxiety display the encompassing effect on anxiety on our everyday lives and functioning. (Image via Rawpixel/ rawpixel)
Types of anxiety display the encompassing effect on anxiety on our everyday lives and functioning. (Image via Rawpixel/ rawpixel)

Knowledge is power, and it is essential to be aware of the types of anxiety disorders. Anxiety is an emotion experienced by many, yet it is considered undesirable by most people. This may make you ponder over why we are so scared of this emotion and what happens in our body that generates this feeling. Anxiety is a worry about future outcomes. It is not based in the present, but takes us away from the present moment.

Anxiety disorders represent a group of mental health issues. They all have similarities, yet they are very unique from each other. These often share the characteristics of excessive and persistent feelings of fear, nervousness, or worry. This is not a typical level of anxiety that you may experience.

Sometimes anxiety can grow within us and exacerbate into anxiety disorders. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)
Sometimes anxiety can grow within us and exacerbate into anxiety disorders. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)

Types of Anxiety Disorders

The different types of anxiety disorders can significantly interfere with your daily life. Some common types of anxiety disorders have been discussed below, although they have not been numbered on the basis of their prevalence. However, lately, there has been a steep rise in the number of individuals being diagnosed with anxiety disorders.

1) Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

GAD is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. (Image via vecteezy/ vecteezy)
GAD is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. (Image via vecteezy/ vecteezy)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is one of the most common types of anxiety disorders. In this condition, a person is likely to experience excessive and uncontrollable worry about various aspects of life.

There is no specific trigger for the anxiety. This tension and worry is also disproportionate to the real situation and can cause significant distress for at least six months.


2) Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder is not the same as introversion. (Image via vecteezy/ vecteezy)
Social anxiety disorder is not the same as introversion. (Image via vecteezy/ vecteezy)

If you or someone you know have an intense fear of being in social situations, avoid communication with others as much as possible. This often stems from the fear of being judged or scrutinized by others.

As a consequence, people with this disorder avoid social contact as much as possible. This condition is not the same as the personality trait of introversion.


3) Panic Disorder

Panic can set in any time. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)
Panic can set in any time. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)

Panic attack is an sudden episode of experience intense fear or discomfort. This is often accompanied by physical symptoms like increased heart rate, breathlessness, feeling a loss of control, and other symptoms. Panic disorder involves recurrent panic attacks. In this condition, a persons fears the possibility of having a panic attack.


4) Specific Phobias

Specific phobias are types of anxiety disorders that can disrupt functioning. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)
Specific phobias are types of anxiety disorders that can disrupt functioning. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)

Contrary to GAD, phobia is an intense fear of specific objects, animals, situations, or activities. There can be various types of specific phobias. You may have heard about the intense fear of being in closed spaces, of heights, or of darkness. Have you heard about the fear of spiders, fear of long words, or even long needles? These are all manifestations of phobias.


5) Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia is one of the types of anxiety that is associated with intense distress and discomfort. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)
Agoraphobia is one of the types of anxiety that is associated with intense distress and discomfort. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)

Generally a person receives the diagnosis of both panic disorder and Agoraphobia jointly. It is often associated with panic disorder and involves a fear of being in situations where escape may be difficult or embarrassing in the event of a panic attack. As a result, individuals with agoraphobia may avoid crowded places or situations outside their comfort zone.


6) Separation Anxiety Disorder

Attachment interplays with types of anxiety. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)
Attachment interplays with types of anxiety. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)

Types of anxiety can also be diagnosed in children. Typically, children build an attachment with their primary caregiver. If this need is not met adequately, a child may experience excessive fear of distress as a consequence.

This is particularly evident when they are away from the from attachment figures, such as parents or caregivers. This is not a typical level of distress, and a mental health professional can assist in managing separation anxiety.


7) Selective Mutism

Selective mutism is characterized by low level of interactions and communication. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)
Selective mutism is characterized by low level of interactions and communication. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)

There are some children who are quiet and shy, but there are others who may experience a rare childhood anxiety disorder called selective mutism. They may consistently fail to speak in specific social situations. They may not be capable of maintaining speech and having conversations with others. This may also continue to happen in their adulthood.


8) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The effects of PTSD are very real. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)
The effects of PTSD are very real. (Image via Vecteezy/ vecteezy)

We now understand that trauma is not just a consequence of being exposed to major disasters, abuse or wars. It lies on a continuum and can have lasting effects on an individual. If an individual continues to display the signs of the trauma, much after it has occured, they may receive a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)


9) Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a not a casual word to be used. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)
OCD is a not a casual word to be used. (Image via Vecteezy/ Vecteezy)

You don't have OCD if you like cleaning and are also fond of organizing. Unfortunately, we use this term too casually, when, in reality, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious mental health illness. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors to mitigate the obsessions.


Different types of anxiety may manifest differently in each individual. It's essential to remember that individuals may experience more than one type simultaneously. What comes after recognition? Try to seek a mental health professional who can help you arrive at a diagnosis.

Depending on the severity of symtpoms, types of anxiety disorders are highly treatable. Therapeutic approaches, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and medication are the go-to tools for most practitioners. It is possible to manage different types of anxiety, as long as you are willing to seek professional help.


Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.


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Edited by Susrita Das