Types of Anxiety Disorders

Most people are familiar with feelings of anxiety. We all get anxious from time to time. This doesn’t mean that we all suffer from anxiety disorders. The term “anxiety disorder” is actually an umbrella term that encompasses several different types of anxiety, each with their own symptoms and treatment options. Understanding which anxiety disorder you might be suffering from will help you determine the appropriate methods of treatment and receive the help you need.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, is characterized by chronic, intense anxiety, tension, and worry over everyday problems. Even when someone knows that their fear is unwarranted, they may experience extreme anxiety over family problems, money, work, school, or health. Sometimes there is absolutely no reason for them to worry, but they worry anyway. Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include fatigue, muscle tension, body aches, headaches, nausea, intestinal discomfort, and irritability.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder that causes the individual sufferer to experience uncontrollable, recurrent unwanted thoughts called obsessions and/or repetitive behaviors known as compulsions. Some obsessions might include an extreme preoccupation with germs, counting of objects, fear of intruders, preoccupation with looks, thoughts of harming oneself or one’s family, and thoughts of sexual acts one dislikes. Someone with obsessive thoughts about germs might compulsively wash their hands. The compulsive behavior is not something they enjoy. Instead, it is designed to provide temporary relief from the anxiety produced by the obsession. If they can’t perform the compulsive behavior, their anxiety increases.

Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by frequent unexpected bouts of overwhelming fear accompanied by intense physical and emotional symptoms. These bouts are called panic attacks, and the physical symptoms of panic attacks are often mistaken for a heart attack at their most severe. These physical symptoms include racing thoughts, a sense of impending danger, nausea, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, a feeling of unreality, an overwhelming urge to flee, sweating and feeling flushed or chilled. Panic attacks can be triggered by a specific event, such as getting behind the wheel of a car, or they can happen for no specific reason. A single panic attack may not be a sign of panic disorder, but repeated regular panic attacks might signal a problem.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia, is characterized by excessive fear and worry in social situations. The fear can be tied to a specific type of social setting or activity, such as fear of public speaking or fear of eating in front of others, or it can be a generalized overwhelming fear that is present in virtually all social situations. A person with social anxiety disorder experiences an intense and constant fear of being judged by or embarrassed in front of others, and this fear is sometimes so severe that it interferes with their ability to participate in normal daily activities when others are involved. The person often experiences physical symptoms of anxiety in social situations including blushing, shaking, nausea, difficulty speaking, and sweating.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is triggered by an exposure to a terrifying event during which extreme physical harm was either inflicted or threatened. These events can include violent assaults, accidents, military combat, or natural disasters. After the event, the individual with post-traumatic stress disorder will experience recurrent memories of the ordeal, often causing them to feel emotionally numb. They may also suffer with sleep difficulty, feel detached from those they were once closest to, and startle easily.

If you think you might be suffering from one of these anxiety disorders, there is help available. Therapy, medication, a healthy lifestyle, and certain herbal supplements might be able to alleviate your symptoms and give you a better quality of life. Speak with your healthcare provider about specific treatments designed to help you cope with anxiety disorder.

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