Types of Anxiety, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

An Overview of Types of Anxiety Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent fear, worry, or unease. They can significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and well-being. Types of anxiety encompass a range of mental health conditions characterized by excessive fear, worry, and unease. Understanding the different types of anxiety […]

An Overview of Types of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent fear, worry, or unease. They can significantly impact a person’s daily life, relationships, and well-being. Types of anxiety encompass a range of mental health conditions characterized by excessive fear, worry, and unease. Understanding the different types of anxiety is essential in recognizing and addressing specific manifestations of these disorders. This overview explores several common types of anxiety, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Recognizing these different types of anxiety can help individuals and healthcare professionals better understand and address the specific challenges associated with each disorder.

What are the 6 types of anxiety disorders?

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): GAD is characterized by excessive and persistent worry and anxiety about various aspects of life, such as work, relationships, health, and everyday situations. The worries are often difficult to control and may be accompanied by physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
  2. Panic Disorder: Panic disorder involves recurrent and unexpected panic attacks. These attacks are intense episodes of fear or discomfort that typically peak within minutes and are accompanied by physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, sweating, trembling shortness of breath, and a feeling of impending doom. People with panic disorder often worry about experiencing future panic attacks and may avoid certain situations or places.
  3. Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Social anxiety disorder is characterized by a fear of social situations and a persistent fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, or judged by others. Individuals with social anxiety may experience anxiety symptoms in situations like public speaking, meeting new people, or participating in social activities. They may avoid such situations or endure them with intense distress.
  4. Specific Phobias: Specific phobias involve an intense and irrational fear of specific objects, animals, or situations. Common phobias include heights, spiders, snakes, flying, needles, and enclosed spaces. Exposure to the feared object or situation can lead to severe anxiety or panic attacks.
  5. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is characterized by recurrent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). People with OCD engage in these compulsions to alleviate anxiety or prevent feared outcomes. Common obsessions include contamination fears, intrusive thoughts of harm, or a need for symmetry, while common compulsions include excessive cleaning, checking, or counting.
  6. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD can develop after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. Symptoms include intrusive thoughts or memories of the trauma, flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance of event reminders. Anxiety is a common feature of PTSD.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety. They can significantly impact a person's thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical well-being.
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety. They can significantly impact a person’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical well-being.

Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Disorders Overview

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of fear, worry, and anxiety. They can significantly impact a person’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical well-being.

Are depression and anxiety a disability? Yes. Both often co-occur and are eligible for disability benefits. It is crucial to consult a mental health professional for guidelines and documentation.

Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: Hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: Lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: Fatigue or sweating.

Also common:  Anxiety, excessive worry, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling.

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aims to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

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Anxiety Statistics

Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterized by excessive worry, fear, and apprehension.

264 million

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions worldwide, affecting a significant portion of the population. An estimated 264 million people globally were living with anxiety disorders in 2017.

Source: WHO


Anxiety and depression often coexist. It is reported that approximately 50% of individuals diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are also diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives.

Source: ADAA

$42 billion

The economic costs associated with anxiety disorders are substantial. Anxiety disorders cost more than $42 billion annually in healthcare expenses and lost productivity in the United States.

Source: Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

Causes of Anxiety

The causes of anxiety are multifaceted and can vary from person to person. Here are some common factors that can contribute to the development of anxiety:

  1. Biological Factors: Certain individuals may be genetically predisposed to anxiety disorders. An imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin or dopamine, can also play a role.
  2. Environmental Factors: Stressful or traumatic events, such as abuse, accidents, or loss of a loved one, can trigger anxiety. Chronic stress, including work pressure, financial difficulties, or relationship problems, can also contribute.
  3. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as heart disease, thyroid disorders, or chronic pain, can be associated with anxiety symptoms. Additionally, substance abuse or withdrawal from certain substances can induce or exacerbate anxiety.
  4. Personality Traits: Individuals with certain personality traits, such as perfectionism, high levels of neuroticism, or a history of childhood shyness, may be more prone to anxiety.
  5. Cognitive Factors: Negative thinking patterns, irrational beliefs, and distorted perception of threats can contribute to anxiety disorders.
  6. Family History: Having a family member with an anxiety disorder increases the likelihood of developing one, suggesting a potential genetic or environmental influence.

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Types of Anxiety Meds

There are various types of anxiety medications available, each targeting different aspects of anxiety symptoms. Here are some commonly prescribed categories of anxiety medication:

  1. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders. They increase serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation, in the brain. Examples of SSRIs include sertraline, escitalopram, and fluoxetine.
  2. Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are sedative medications that enhance the effects of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which helps reduce anxiety. These medications provide quick relief but can be habit-forming and have potential side effects. Examples include alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam.
  3. Buspirone: Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that works by affecting serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. It is used for generalized anxiety disorder and has a lower dependency risk than benzodiazepines.
  4. Beta-Blockers: While primarily used to treat high blood pressure and heart conditions, beta-blockers such as propranolol can also help manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, trembling, and sweating. They are often prescribed for situational anxiety, such as before public speaking or performance-related anxiety.
  5. Antidepressants: Some antidepressants, such as venlafaxine and duloxetine, may also be prescribed for anxiety disorders. These medications can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety symptoms.
  6. Anticonvulsants: Certain anticonvulsant medications, such as pregabalin and gabapentin, may be off-labeled to treat anxiety disorders. They work by affecting neurotransmitters involved in anxiety regulation.

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Types of Therapy for Anxiety Types

Several effective types of therapy can help individuals manage and alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Here are some commonly used therapeutic approaches:

  1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a widely recognized and evidence-based therapy for anxiety disorders. It focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs contributing to anxiety. Through cognitive restructuring and behavioral techniques, individuals learn to replace negative thoughts with more realistic and adaptive ones and gradually confront feared situations.
  2. Exposure Therapy: Exposure therapy is particularly effective for specific phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It involves gradually and systematically exposing individuals to feared objects, situations, or thoughts in a controlled and safe manner. Through repeated exposure, individuals learn that their anxiety decreases over time, leading to desensitization and reduced fear.
  3. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT aims to help individuals accept their anxious thoughts and feelings rather than trying to eliminate them. It emphasizes mindfulness techniques to observe and accept thoughts and emotions without judgment. ACT also helps individuals identify their core values and commit to actions that align with those values, promoting a more fulfilling life despite anxiety.
  4. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): DBT was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder but has also shown effectiveness in managing anxiety. It combines cognitive-behavioral techniques with mindfulness and acceptance-based strategies. DBT focuses on emotion regulation, distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness, and mindfulness skills.
  5. Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Mindfulness-based therapies, such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), incorporate mindfulness meditation and techniques to cultivate present-moment awareness. These approaches can help individuals observe their anxious thoughts and emotions without getting caught up in them, fostering a sense of calm and non-reactivity.
  6. Psychodynamic Therapy: Psychodynamic therapy explores how unconscious thoughts and early life experiences influence current anxiety symptoms. By addressing underlying conflicts, unresolved issues, and defense mechanisms, psychodynamic therapy aims to bring about lasting changes in anxiety symptoms and overall well-being.

Types of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are intense episodes of fear or discomfort that can occur suddenly and without warning. While there are different types of anxiety attacks, they generally share common features. Here are a few variations:

  1. General Panic Attack: This type of anxiety attack involves a sudden surge of intense fear or dread accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, sweating, trembling, and a sense of impending doom or loss of control.
  2. Situational Panic Attack: Situational panic attacks respond to specific triggers or situations. For example, someone with social anxiety may experience a panic attack before or during a social event. In contrast, someone with a specific phobia might have a panic attack when confronted with their feared object or situation.
  3. Nocturnal Panic Attack: Nocturnal panic attacks occur during sleep and can wake a person abruptly. These attacks can be particularly distressing as the individual may wake up feeling intense fear, confusion, and physical symptoms.
  4. Limited Symptom Panic Attack: In some cases, individuals may experience panic attacks with fewer symptoms than a typical full-blown panic attack. Limited-symptom panic attacks may involve a subset of panic attack symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath, but not the full range of symptoms.

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  1. What are the different types of anxiety?

    The different types of anxiety include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  2. What are the types of anxiety medication?

    The types of anxiety medication include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), benzodiazepines, buspirone, beta-blockers, and certain antidepressants and anticonvulsants.

Watch Powerful Coping Skills for Anxiety. Anxiety Tips & Advice from a Therapist.

“Anxiety, when gone untreated, can increase over time. So here are four tips to calm your everyday anxiety. Take a breath. Do something that you enjoy. Remove yourself from the situation and go for a walk. Doing these four things gives you a better chance of calming your anxiety.”

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Search We Level Up WA Mental Health Types of Anxiety Topics & Resources
  1. National Institute of Mental Health – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – “Mental Health – Anxiety and Depression” Link: https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute – “Coping With Stress and Anxiety” Link: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/coping-with-stress-and-anxiety
  4. MedlinePlus – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html
  5. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.samhsa.gov/conditions/anxiety-disorders
  6. National Institute on Aging – “Anxiety Disorders in Older Adults” Link: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/anxiety-disorders-older-adults
  7. Office on Women’s Health – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health/mental-health-conditions/anxiety-disorders
  8. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – “Anxiety” Link: https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/anxiety-at-a-glance
  9. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – “Anxiety Disorders” Link: https://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/anxiety.asp
  10. National Library of Medicine – “Anxiety” Link: https://medlineplus.gov/anxiety.html