Anxiety is far more than just everyday stress. Here are the five main types of officially recognized anxiety disorders:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Those with generalized anxiety disorder have a persistent sense of anxiety most of the day, on most days. This isn’t necessarily triggered by anything specifically but does involve constant worry and racing thoughts that feel like they’re impossible to shut off. This type of anxiety can be so debilitating that it’s hard to leave your house or interact with other people.
The symptoms of panic disorder manifest in a very physical way. People with panic disorder experience recurring panic attacks, which can consist of:
- Heart palpitations
- Shortness of breath
- Fear of death
Panic is different than worry or anxiety – it entails a sudden rush of overwhelming fear and some combination of the above physical symptoms. Panic attacks can come on in minutes, whether or not you’re aware of what triggered them. And while they generally also subside within a few minutes, they can leave you feeling uneasy long after. People who suffer from regular panic attacks often develop avoidance or coping behaviors that allow them to escape triggering situations.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder has two main parts:
- Obsessions – These are things you can’t stop thinking about it. When you’re obsessed with something, it’s all you want to do, and it takes up significant amounts of your time.
- Compulsions – These are the specific acts you do as a result of the obsession. While stereotypically thought of as cleaning, handwashing, locking doors, etc., they can be any type of behavior.
OCD is also often linked to eating disorders and self-harm, with certain rituals always taking place around these compulsive behaviors.
Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when a traumatic event overwhelms your ability to cope. Not all trauma develops into PTSD, but whether or not is does is subjective and varies from person to person. This can come from an actual or threatened trauma; one you experienced first-hand, witnessed someone else experience or were exposed to the details of. PTSD symptoms often include flashbacks, hypervigilance, difficulty remembering what happened and avoidance of things you associate with the traumatic event.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Also known as social phobia, this disorder is characterized by an intense dread of social situations. This is usually out of fear of being judged or ridiculed for doing something embarrassing. This can lead to an extreme avoidance of social situations – sometimes to the point of never leaving the house.