Types of Anxiety Disorders

Millions of people worldwide live with anxiety, a mental health disorder characterized by unrealistic fears, agitation, insomnia, panic attacks, concentration issues and feelings of imminent doom. Though these symptoms are mild for some people, they can increase in severity without treatment, interfering with sufferers’ daily lives by causing them to avoid activities that make them afraid or uncomfortable.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has identified five primary types of anxiety disorders.

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder causes ongoing tension, usually out of proportion to the events around you. People with GAD live with heightened stress levels that may cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, muscle aches, sleep disruptions and an elevated heart rate. If you tend to get irrationally upset about minor things or always expect the worst-case scenario, you may have GAD. Generalized anxiety disorder also frequently co-occurs with other mental health issues, including PTSD and depression.

2. Social Anxiety Disorder

If you tend to be introverted, you’re probably more comfortable staying home than going to a large gathering. But the critical distinction between introversion and social anxiety is that people with social phobia aren’t merely loners. Those who struggle with this condition have irrational worries that others are watching or judging them, combined with intense fears about embarrassment and rejection. Fear of public speaking is one of the most common manifestations of social anxiety. However, for socially anxious people, even simple daily interactions like ordering food from a restaurant server may cause them to blush or break out in a sweat.

Social anxiety can curtail your life in various ways. For instance, you might go to great lengths to avoid parties, networking events or other situations that would force you to meet new people. People who get irrationally nervous about job interviews may decline opportunities for professional advancement.

3. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

If your only familiarity with OCD is from media depictions, you may be unaware of how crippling this condition can be. OCD goes far beyond a preference for keeping things tidy and organized.

People with OCD struggle with irrational compulsions that may cause repetitive behaviors like counting items, arranging things in a specific order or sanitizing various objects. Fulfilling these urges can take hours per day, and the relief they bring is usually only temporary. If you have OCD, you may feel you can prevent disaster by repeating the same actions over and over, even if you know that belief is illogical.

4. Panic Disorder

A panic attack is an abrupt episode of intense fear that can occur without warnings or triggers. Many people only have a couple of panic attacks in their lives, and the problem resolves when the stressful situation ends. However, if you have frequent panic attacks, you may have a condition called panic disorder.

There’s a link between panic disorder and another mental health problem called agoraphobia, since people who have had a panic attack in a public place may worry that it will happen again. In cases like these, you may voluntarily isolate from society because you feel unsafe outside your home.

5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is an issue that can develop after a troubling or frightening event – either a one-time occurrence like a car accident or an ongoing situation such as domestic abuse. Trauma survivors live in a constant state of high alert; as a result, they may startle easily or react angrily to anything that triggers their unpleasant memories. They may also avoid people, places or circumstances that remind them of what they’ve been through.

Overcoming Mental Health and Addiction

Anxiety disorders and substance abuse often go hand in hand, with each condition magnifying the other’s effects. At Cumberland Heights, our programming will help you start your journey to lifelong recovery and mental well-being. We’re the first addiction treatment center in Tennessee to obtain certification from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and our treatment professionals use their clinical expertise to support people in their goals of overcoming the disease of addiction. Start a conversation with us today.