Various Types of Anxiety Disorders

Experiencing some anxiety in day to day life is common enough. For those who suffer from anxiety disorders, however, specific stimuli can create much more dynamic emotions and experiences.

While the experience of an anxiety disorder can feel alienating, those with these disorders are not alone. Over 18 percent of U.S. adults experience anxiety in some form throughout the year, translating into 40 million Americans, according to research.

The truth is, though, that only a fraction of these individuals seek intervention when it comes to their anxiety. Learning about the different types of anxiety disorders and what treatments are out there is an essential first step in changing awareness and getting people help.

Anxiety– What exactly is it?

First, let’s walk through what anxiety is not. It is not an effort by the sufferer to overreact or manipulate others. Anxiety sufferers also do not have your run-of-the-mill worrisome moments when problems arise.

Someone dealing with an anxiety disorder manifests symptoms that are so extreme that they interfere with that person’s ability to manage their day-to-day life. Common activities such as going to work or school, as an example, are compromised by an anxiety disorder.

The Various Subtypes or Anxiety Disorders

There are several subtypes within the overarching category of anxiety disorder. Let’s take a look at each in turn. There are many differentiators that distinguish these subtypes. The way in which the individual reacts to a trigger is one of the most significant differentiators.

If you or a loved one are suffering from an anxiety disorder, it is important to seek out help. Knowing the distinctions between these various disorders can aid in this process.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD sufferers have consistent and ongoing anxiety that chronically interrupts their daily activities. Diagnosis requires that a patient display symptoms for the majority of time over a six month period. The long timeline in diagnosis helps to differentiate this disorder from short-term anxiety disorders.

What Triggers GAD?

Common triggers include work, relationships, school, or illness. Oftentimes, the individual dealing with GAD even experiences anxiety about the anxiety. GAD is characterized by its chronic nature; in other words, anxieties may remain long after an issue has been ameliorated.

Biological triggers of GAD

There are not always biological triggers of GAD or documented reasons for developing the disorder. Many patients feel that their lives are balanced and secure and do not understand why they experience anxiety. The absence of any triggers does not mean a patient does not have GAD.

In some patients, a chemical imbalance can cause GAD. Patients with these triggers typically see first onset during their teen years. The generalized anxiety may remain present on some level throughout their lives, becoming more intense in the face of environmental stressors.

Some studies have suggested that this disorder has a genetic component, but no genes have been identified as the triggers. There is still debate over the genetic causes of GAD.

How many people have GAD?

According to the American Depression and Anxiety Association, almost 7 million adults have GAD each year, or a little over 3 percent of the U.S. GAD sufferers feel that they are alone in their struggle. Exposure to information, understanding treatment and seeking help are also beneficial to GAD sufferers.

A significant percentage of GAD sufferers have severe onset of the disorder, resulting in an inability to execute basic tasks in life, such as bathing or sleeping. Others may be able to maintain an outward appearance of well-being, while experiencing significant internal turmoil.

The Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Patients may experience some or all of the following GAD symptoms:


  • Incapacitating dread
  • An inability to stop perseverating
  • Nervous, jittery feelings
  • Sleep issues
  • Faulty concentration
  • An inability to make decisions
  • Frightened or surprised easily


  • Exhaustion
  • Trembling
  • Muscle soreness or tightening
  • Irritable stomach or nausea
  • Extreme Perspiration
  • Increased heart rate

Symptoms Specific to Adolescents or Children

  • Fixation on disaster events
  • Intense fixation on specificities (being on time)
  • A need for perfection
  • Compromised confidence
  • Positive attention seeking from authority figures
  • Stomach troubles
  • Avoidance of social settings

Treatment Options for GAD

Those seeking treatment from therapists, psychiatrists, or counselors for GAD have several options. Any behavioral health team will first assess the causes behind the case of GAD before recommending intervention. If the cause is found to be chemical, the health team may recommend medication along with psychotherapy, while an environmental cause may result in therapeutic intervention.

Therapeutic interventions include CBT, also known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT can help patients manifest different, more constructive reactions to stressors and triggers.

Doctors, including psychiatrists, can use three different types of medications to treat GAD: antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and buspirone, each of which can affect hormones and the brain in different ways.

What is a panic attack?

A panic attack can happen to those without an anxiety disorder and are also symptomatic of GAD. One of these attacks involves the acute onset of extreme feelings of dread and panic, and include physical symptoms such as increased pulse rate and perspiration.

What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

Patients with OCD experience high anxiety and fixation over small issues that do not concern other people. Symptoms can include germophobia, and repetitive execution of small tasks such as turning on a light switch, and ticks.

What is Agoraphobia?

Agoraphobia involves a fear of placing oneself in a situation where one would be overwhelmed or powerless. The trigger is not the actual loss of power but the fear of being in a situation that leaches power from the individual. The intense anxiety that comes with agoraphobia can cause patients to avoid certain situations, which interferes with daily life. Forcing these situations on a patient can lead to panic attacks.

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