03 May What Are The Different Types of Anxiety Disorders?
Experiencing stress or occasional anxiety is a part of normal life. Being overwhelmed by stressful times is something that everyone will go through. However, some people struggle with anxiety disorders that cause feelings of panic and fear to be a part of their everyday reality.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Over 40 million adults in the U.S. (19.1%) have an anxiety disorder.”
Despite anxiety disorders being the most common mental health condition in the United States, many people do not understand what it means to struggle with one. Additionally, some people may be unaware of the many different types of anxiety disorders, how they are caused, and how they affect people.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common form of anxiety condition that individuals struggle with. This mental health condition is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry about everyday life. The persistent feelings of anxiety and dread that GAD causes can interfere with an individual’s ability to function during daily tasks.
The common symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder include:
- Feeling restless, wound-up, or on edge
- Becoming fatigued easily
- Having a hard time concentrating
- Being irritable
- Trembling or shaking
- Experiencing headaches, muscle aches, stomachaches, or unexplained pains
- Being unable to control feelings of worry
- Having trouble falling and staying asleep
This condition affects people for anywhere from six months to multiple years. Without proper treatment and healthy coping mechanisms, this condition can gradually become worse. Additionally, it is common for individuals with a generalized anxiety disorder to suffer from co-occurring disorders like depression or substance use disorder.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population.
Panic Disorder (PD)
People who suffer from panic disorder struggle with frequent and unexpected panic attacks. To explain, panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear, discomfort, or a sense of losing control coupled with physical symptoms like chest pain and trembling. It is important to note that not everyone who has a panic attack meets the criteria for panic disorder.
Oftentimes, these panic attacks occur when there is no clear danger or reason for them. Because of this, dealing with panic disorder can significantly impact an individual’s ability to cope with life and everyday tasks.
The symptoms of a panic attack include:
- Chest pain
- Chills or hot flashes
- Derealization or depersonalization
- Excessive sweating
- Fear of dying
- Fear of losing control or going crazy
- Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint
- Tingling sensations or numbness
- Trembling and shaking
- Accelerated heart rate and heart palpitations
- Abdominal pain and nausea
- Shortness of breath
PD affects 6 million adults or 2.7% of the U.S. population.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety disorder is a common mental health condition that causes individuals to experience a persistent fear of being watched or judged by others in public spaces. For many individuals, the fear of social interaction is so severe that they avoid social situations altogether. Because of this, many people struggle to attend work, go to school, and perform daily tasks.
The symptoms of a social anxiety disorder include:
- Fear of situations where they may be judged negatively
- Worry about humiliation or embarrassment
- Intense fear of talking or interacting with strangers
- Fear that others will notice their anxiety
- Fear of physical symptoms that may cause embarrassment like sweating, blushing, trembling, or having a shaky voice
- Avoiding doing things in public or talking to people
- Avoidance of situations where they will be the center of attention
- Feeling anxious in anticipation of a feared activity or event
- Intense fear and anxiety during social situations
- Panic attacks during social situations
SAD affects 15 million adults or 6.8% of the U.S. population.
A phobia is described as an aversion to or fear of specific objects or situations. For example, arachnophobia is the intense fear of spiders. While it is normal to be afraid of some things, individuals with phobias feel an out-of-proportion fear related to a specific object or situation.
Individuals with phobia-related anxiety disorders may:
- Have an irrational fear or worry about encountering their feared object or situation
- Take steps to avoid the feared object or situation
- Experience immediate, intense, and unavoidable anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
There are several different types of phobia-related anxiety disorders. A few common phobia-related disorders include:
Specific phobias are sometimes referred to as simple phobias. As the name suggests, individuals with a specific phobia struggle with intense fear and anxiety relating to one specific object or circumstance.
Examples of specific phobias include:
- Flying (aerophobia)
- Heights (acrophobia)
- Spiders (arachnophobia)
- Needles (trypanophobia)
- Blood (hemophobia)
Agoraphobia translates to “fear of the marketplace,” however, this phobia-related disorder causes individuals to fear public spaces or leaving their homes. This causes them to completely avoid situations where they will be in public. In severe cases of agoraphobia, the individual will become completely housebound.
Someone with agoraphobia will have an intense fear relating to two or more of the following situations:
- Using public transportation
- Being in enclosed spaces
- Being in open spaces
- Going outside of the home alone
- Standing in line or being in a crowd
About 1.3% of American adults will experience agoraphobia at some point in their lives.
Separation Anxiety Disorder
Separation anxiety disorder can affect children and adults. People who suffer from this anxiety condition have fears of being apart from the people they are attached to. Oftentimes, they worry that when their loved ones leave they will be harmed.
The fear of being alone and apart from their loved ones causes them to go to great lengths to avoid these situations. Additionally, individuals with a separation anxiety disorder may have intense nightmares about being separated from their attachment figures or experience physical symptoms of a panic attack when it happens in real life.
Selective mutism is a somewhat rare form of a phobia-related anxiety condition. Individuals with selective mutism often fail to speak during social situations despite having proper language skills.
Selective mutism most commonly occurs before age 5 and is associated with:
- Extreme shyness
- Fear of social embarrassment
- Compulsive behaviors
- Social withdrawal
- Clingy behavior
- Temper tantrums
People who struggle with selective mutism often have another anxiety disorder that causes their mutism, like social anxiety or separation anxiety. Selective mutism is recorded to affect less than one percent of children in the United States.
Finding Treatment for Anxiety Disorders
No matter which types of anxiety disorders you or your loved one suffer from, professional mental health treatment will prove extremely beneficial. Because anxiety disorders can prevent you from performing daily tasks and decrease your quality of life, participating in behavioral therapy and group counseling is vital.
Thankfully, Florida Recovery Group can provide you or your loved one with the anxiety treatment you need. Contact us today for more information on how to get started.