Common Types of Anxiety Disorders (From the Experts)

Continuing on the topic of anxiety disorders and their symptoms from earlier this week, I thought I could further the conversation by sharing with you all some of the more common anxiety disorders that currently exist in the United States.

Please note: All official terms and definitions in this post are taken from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, The Mayo Clinic and the National Institute of Mental Health.

There are many types of anxiety disorders that exist based on different symptoms and triggers. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the five major types of anxiety disorders are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Panic Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)

Agoraphobia, selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder and others are also included on an official list of common anxiety disorders from the Mayo Clinic. Below are several of the definitions taken from the Mayo Clinic’s website unless otherwise specified (usually I would paraphrase, but since this is taken directly from a health professional I will keep it as clear as possible). The list is as follows:

  • Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder in which you fear and often avoid places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
  • Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition includes symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are directly caused by a physical health problem.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder includes persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events — even ordinary, routine issues. The worry is out of proportion to the actual circumstance, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It often occurs along with other anxiety disorders or depression.
  • Panic disorder involves repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). You may have feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid, fluttering or pounding heart (heart palpitations). These panic attacks may lead to worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations in which they’ve occurred.
  • Selective mutism is a consistent failure of children to speak in certain situations, such as school, even when they can speak in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
  • Separation anxiety disorder is a childhood disorder characterized by anxiety that’s excessive for the child’s developmental level and related to separation from parents or others who have parental roles.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia) involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and concern about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
  • Specific phobias are characterized by major anxiety when you’re exposed to a specific object or situation and a desire to avoid it. Phobias provoke panic attacks in some people.
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder is characterized by symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are a direct result of misusing drugs, taking medications, being exposed to a toxic substance or withdrawal from drugs.
  • Other specified anxiety disorders and unspecified anxiety disorder are terms for anxiety or phobias that don’t meet the exact criteria for any other anxiety disorders but are significant enough to be distressing and disruptive.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called “rituals,” however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. (information via HHS)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat. (information via HHS)

In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health also provides a very good resource for information and clear definitions.

I hope this information helps and as I say time and again, just because you exhibit a few symptoms every now and then does not mean you should self-diagnose, especially when it comes to mental health disorders. Wishing everyone the best through the rest of this week!

Charlie Chaplin


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