Types Of Anxiety Disorders
All anxiety disorders cause chronic and persistent forms of distress and discomfort, which can include emotional and physical symptoms, but they differ from one another based on the specific trigger of the anxiety, Jenny C. Yip, Psy.D., clinical psychologist and owner of the Renewed Freedom Center in Los Angeles, tells SELF.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and phobia disorders are among the most common types of anxiety disorders. Other common anxiety disorders include post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Lets dive into what each of these types of anxiety disorders looks like.
Generalized anxiety disorder causes excessive worry and anxiety that is persistent for at least six months and is significant enough to disrupt a persons normal ability to function, meaning it gets in the way of doing everyday things like meeting a friend for dinner, finishing work tasks, or even just driving to pick up the kids from school. While we all inevitably experience anxiety in our day-to-day lives, people with GAD experience this anxiety much more severely and frequently than others.
If you have GAD, you might experience the following symptoms, per the NIMH:
Anxiety Attack Symptoms Include:
- Feeling of losing control or going crazy.
- Heart palpitations or chest pain.
- Feeling like youre going to pass out.
- Trouble breathing or choking sensation.
- Nausea or stomach cramps.
- Feeling detached or unreal.
Its important to seek help if youre starting to avoid certain situations because youre afraid of having a panic attack. The truth is that panic attacks are highly treatable. In fact, many people are panic free within just 5 to 8 treatment sessions.
Other Types Of Anxiety
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition also lists other, less common types of anxiety, including:
- selective mutism
- substance- or medication-induced anxiety disorder
- anxiety disorder due to another medical condition
Some mental health conditions are commonly referred to as anxiety disorders and may have once been classified as one, but now have a in the DSM-5. They include OCD and PTSD.
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Common Types Of Anxiety: Panic Disorder
Suffering from frequent, recurring panic attacks is the main symptom of panic disorder. Panic attacks are sudden, severe feelings of anxiety that come with significant physical symptoms. These panic attack symptoms include:
- Elevated heart rate
Now, many people will experience a panic attack in their lifetime. However, if your panic attacks are happening more than once a year or so, you may have a panic disorder. Note that many common types of anxiety come with panic attacks as a symptom, but panic disorders are unique in that they come without the day-to-day anxiety symptoms of the other mental illnesses on this list.
Causes And Risk Factors
- Behavioral Choices
Its important to note that everyone feels anxiety to some degree regularly throughout their life. Fear and anxiety are helpful emotions that can function to help us notice danger or threats that keep us safe and help us adapt to our environment. Anxiety disorders occur when significant distress impairs your ability to function in important facets of life, such as work, school, or relationships. There are many potential risk factors for anxiety disorders, and most people likely experience multiple different combinations of risk factors, such as neurobiological factors, genetic markers, environmental factors, and life experiences. However, we do not yet fully understand what causes some people to have anxiety disorders.
Genetic risk factors have been documented for all anxiety disorders. Clinical genetic studies indicate that heritability estimates for anxiety disorders range from 30-67%. Many studies, past and present, have focused on identifying specific genetic factors that increase ones risk for an anxiety disorder. To date, an array of single nucleotide polymorphisms or small variations in genetic code, that confer heightened risk for anxiety have been discovered. For the most part, the variants that have been associated with risk for anxiety are located within genes that are critical for the expression and regulation of neurotransmitter systems or stress hormones.
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What Is Separation Anxiety
Most young children develop anxiety about being separated from parents or caregivers. Its a normal developmental stage, and, beginning around nine months of age, the type and degree of distress that children show on separation from caregivers is typically used as a measure of the security of attachment and adaptation to a world of strangers. But the anxiety on separation that is appropriate at age 1 is less adaptive at age 10.
Separation anxiety disorder exists when children show more than a developmentally appropriate degree of distress on separation from home or attachment figures, and it develops in about four percent of children under the age of 12. It can show up as persistent worry about being lost or kidnapped and never seeing their parents again, or about a parent dying. Children with separation anxiety disorder often refuse to go to school, and they can be clingy. A bout of separation can occur during any period of significant stress during childhood, but it can be especially severe after parental divorce.
How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.
There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.
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Causes Of Anxiety Disorder
Some causes of anxiety disorders are:
- Genetics. Anxiety disorders can run in families.
- Brain chemistry. Some research suggests anxiety disorders may be linked to faulty circuits in the brain that control fear and emotions.
- Environmental stress. This refers to stressful events you have seen or lived through. Life events often linked to anxiety disorders include childhood abuse and neglect, a death of a loved one, or being attacked or seeing violence.
- Drug withdrawal or misuse. Certain drugs may be used to hide or decrease certain anxiety symptoms. Anxiety disorder often goes hand in hand with alcohol and substance use.
- Medical conditions. Some heart, lung, and thyroid conditions can cause symptoms similar to anxiety disorders or make anxiety symptoms worse. Itâs important to get a full physical exam to rule out other medical conditions when talking to your doctor about anxiety.
How Do Phobias Differ From Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder tends to be just thatgeneralized. There is concern related to one of the major domains of life and the cognitive load of worry is out of proportion to the likelihood of any bad outcomes imagined to lie ahead. Phobias generally have a very circumscribed focus. There is also an important mental difference: The fear in phobias is quite immediate it does not reflect a prolonged state of apprehension, although it is out of proportion to the degree of actual risk posed. Phobias tend to focus on specific objects or situations and cluster in several distinctive categories: animals , natural environments , and injury .
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What Is Hypochondria Or Health Anxiety
What was formerly referred to as hypochondria, or hypochondriasis, has been refined into two separate conditions that involve physical expression of psychological suffering but only one of which is seen as aligned with anxiety disorders. Illness Anxiety Disorder encompasses people who have a level of general health anxiety high enough to cause psychological distress and impairment but not manifesting in specific somatic symptoms. By contrast, Somatic Symptom and Related Disorder refers to those people who present with somatic symptoms accompanied by psychological distress and preoccupation with those symptoms. Both versions of hypochondria tend to present themselves far more in medical settings than in mental health settings.
Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders
The risk factors for the different types of anxiety disorders can vary. For example, GAD and phobias are more common in women, but social anxiety affects men and women equally. There are some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders, including
- Certain personality traits, such as being shy or withdrawn when you are in new situations or meeting new people
- Traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood
- Family history of anxiety or other mental disorders
- Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or arrhythmia
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How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
An anxiety disorder is like any other health problem that requires treatment. You cant will it away. Its not a matter of self-discipline or attitude. Researchers have made a lot of progress in the last few decades in treating mental health conditions. Your healthcare provider will tailor a treatment plan that works for you. Your plan may combine medication and psychotherapy.
What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder
This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.
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Whats The Best Treatment For Different Types Of Anxiety
If youve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, there are scientifically supported treatment options that can help you take control of your symptoms and feel better. Treatment for most types of anxiety disorders usually involves a combination of therapy and medication.
Psychotherapy is regarded as one of the most important, gold-standard treatment options for many different anxiety disorders, according to the American Psychological Association. Thats because therapy is all about exploring, dissecting, and truly understanding your personal mental space, says Dr. Gold.
A therapist will work with you to get to the root of how your thoughts are negatively impacting you and what you can do to actively change them, a practice known as cognitive behavioral therapy , which is pretty powerful. CBT is one of the most effective and widely used therapy techniques for anxiety disorders, according to the American Psychological Association, because its been shown to help reduce symptoms of the disorder and improve your overall quality of life.
According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, other psychotherapy options for anxiety disorders include:
Specific medications that are helpful for anxiety disorders include:
Who Can Diagnose Anxiety Disorders
If your provider finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They may use specially designed interview and assessment tools to figure out if you have an anxiety disorder. Typically, the provider bases a diagnosis on:
- Your reported symptoms, including how intense they are and how long they last.
- Discussion of how the symptoms interfere with your daily life.
- The providers observation of your attitude and behavior.
Providers also consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders . The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5. Its the standard reference manual for diagnosing mental illnesses.
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Where To Find Treatment
Most treatment providers for anxiety-related disorders can be found in hospitals, clinics, private or group practices. Some also operate in schools . There is also the growing field of telehealth in which mental health workers provide their services through an internet video service, streaming media, video conferencing, or wireless communication. Telehealth is particularly useful for patients that live in remote rural locations that are far from institutions that provide mental health services. Mental health providers that work in telehealth can only provide services to patients currently located in the state in which the provider is licensed.
How Do Anxiety Disorders Affect Children
Its normal for children to feel some amount of anxiety, worry or fear at certain points. For example, a child may feel scared of a thunderstorm or barking dog. A teenager might get anxious about an upcoming test or school dance.
But sometimes, children approach these situations with overwhelming dread or they cant stop thinking about all the fears tied to one of these events. It may seem that none of your comforts help. These children often get stuck on their worries. They have a hard time doing their daily activities, like going to school, playing and falling asleep. Theyre extremely reluctant to try something new.
When thinking about your childs anxiety levels, getting stuck is key. It separates the regular worries of childhood from an anxiety disorder that needs professional help. If the anxiety or worry interferes with your childs ability to function, it may be time to seek help
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What Is An Anxiety Attack
An anxiety or panic attack involves a sudden burst of intense anxiety that produces physical symptoms. The symptoms might include difficulty breathing, chest pain, and dizziness.
Some people use the terms anxiety attack and panic attack interchangeably. Panic attacks can last as long as anywhere from 530 minutes.
Having a panic attack is frightening, and people who experience them are usually fearful of triggering another. Some people go to great lengths to avoid certain situations that might produce another episode.
How Many Types Of Anxiety Are There
There are officially six types of anxiety disorder, all related in some way to activation of the fear system, vigilance in anticipation of some kind of future threat or bad outcome, and behavior marked by caution or avoidance. They differ in terms of what gives rise to the fear or behavioral response. And while stress may trigger any one of them, the anxiety lasts far longer and exceeds the actual danger poseda fact that provides the rationale for one of the most successful treatments for anxiety, cognitive and behavioral therapy. Human imagination provides the capacity to mentally magnify threats its almost as if we talk ourselves into worry. People who suffer from one anxiety disorder tend to suffer from at least one other.
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There Are Many Different Types Of Anxiety And Help Is Available For Them All
There are lots of different types of anxiety: some people may not fit into any of the ones that weve outlined. You may feel as though you are a mix of multiple categories.
However your anxiety manifests itself, help is available. We would recommend visiting a doctor and speaking to them about your anxiety. You can manage it and it can get better.
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