Anxiety is an emotional state, one that exists on a continuum with other fear like states. Anxiety can often be an uncomfortable emotion however is a normal response to certain situations in life. If we use the normal anxiety intelligently it can actually help or improve life, as we need anxiety at times.
When anxiety becomes a disorder, the anxiety overwhelms you and has a negative impact on your life, potentially affecting many areas of your life. The different types of anxiety disorders are discussed below.
Different types of Anxiety
Anxiety Disorders is an umbrella term used in Psychology and Psychiatry to describe a range of conditions that have anxiety as a core symptom. I am assuming, because you are reading this website that you probably already have some ideas about the different types of anxiety, and that you may be suffering from one or more of these conditions or have a friend or relative that does.
The focus of this website is on solutions, so I will only give a brief overview of the different types of anxiety here. I have also noticed in my practice that many people don’t meet the formal criteria for an Anxiety Disorder, however fears of different kinds still adversely affect their life. In my book I refer to this as the fear continuum and I believe that whether or not you have a ‘diagnosable disorder’ or if fears and worries are impacting on your life it is worth doing something about it and my approach address both of these areas.
The different types of Anxiety include:
Types of anxiety disorders range from those that affect only one situation, such as being phobic around spiders, to those that affect many aspects of everyday life. Below, you’ll find a list of anxiety disorders with a brief explanation of each type.
List of Short-Term Anxiety Disorders
Eleven types of anxiety disorders are recognized by the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR). Some types of anxiety disorders are short-term and often resolve themselves with the removal of a stressor.
Here’s a list of anxiety disorders that are typically short-term:
- Acute stress disorder – diagnosed when anxiety symptoms occur immediately following a trauma, but are short-lived
- Adjustment disorder with anxious features – diagnosed when a person develops anxiety symptoms in relation to a major life-changing event. For example getting married, losing your job or moving to another city. Symptoms generally start within three months of the stressful event and occur for six months or less
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder – this type of anxiety is caused by a substance, such as caffeine, alcohol or drugs. It generally resolves when the substance is discontinued or when withdrawal from the substance is over
Long-Term Anxiety Disorders
Other types of anxiety disorders develop and remain long-term. Many start early in life and last long into adulthood, particularly if treatment has not been sought.
- Agoraphobia – a fear of being in a public place where escape would be embarrassing or difficult. This is particularly prevalent when a person fears they may have a panic attack or other strong physical reaction like vomitting.
- Anxiety due to a general medical condition – this type of anxiety disorder can be short- or long-term depending on the medical condition. Anxiety often develops in relation to illnesses and the impact it has on the person.
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – anxiety symptoms occur in multiple environments and due to multiple objects or situations. Anxiety symptoms are more pervasive and general.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – anxiety symptoms are in the form of intrusive, obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors (or mental acts).
- Panic disorder – consists of severe, immediate anxiety symptoms (a panic attack) due to a variety of causes, as well as the worry over having another panic attack. Sufferers may be aware of what is triggering the panic, or it may seem to just ‘come out of the blue’
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – anxiety symptoms that occur after a trauma, where the person often feels the situation was terribly frightening, life-threatening, or unsafe and struggles to recover from it.
- Social phobia, also referred to as social anxiety disorder – anxiety symptoms occur in social or performance situations and stem from the fear of being humiliated or embarrassed.
- Specific phobia (also known as a simple phobia) – anxiety symptoms occur around a specific object or situation which results in avoidance e.g. heights or dogs etc.