Types of Anxiety

By Sherry Baker @SherryNewsViews
July 20, 2023
Types of Anxiety

Feeling anxious occasionally, like before a big date or test, is normal. But some types of anxiety are chronic and can interfere with your enjoyment of life.

Experiencing anxiety now and then is a normal part of life — whether you are anxious about an event or a challenge that’s worrisome, exciting, or happy.

For example, anxious feelings can develop if you are proposing marriage, discussing a problem with a boss, worried about missing a flight, or for countless other reasons. Stage fright and test anxiety are common types of anxiety that can sometimes make people feel downright awful.


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Anxiety is part of your body’s fight-or-flight response. In extreme circumstances, it can save your life. If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, such an out-of-control car careening toward you or a wild animal about to attack, your neuroendocrine system releases hormones that prepare your body to run away quickly or stay and face a threat.

But even if you aren’t facing actual harm, your fight-or-flight response can cause symptoms of anxiety, including a rapid heart rate, sweating, upset stomach, frequent urination, and headaches.

Anxious feelings often pass quickly. But for some people, anxiety involves more than temporary fear or worry.

Some types of anxiety tend to persist and even worsen over time. These anxiety disorders can potentially interfere with relationships, work, school, social activities, and other daily activities, the American Psychological Association points out.

Understanding types of anxiety

Anxiety disorders are common in both adults and children. More than 40 million Americans develop an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

There are several major types of anxiety disorders.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is marked by persistent anxiety and exaggerated worry, even when there is little or nothing that should trigger those feelings. If you suffer from GAD, you may constantly feel anxious about your health or finances or have an ongoing feeling of dread that something bad is about to happen.

Physical symptoms can include insomnia, irritability, muscle tension, and difficulty concentrating, the American Psychological Association explains.

Panic disorder is a type of anxiety in which recurrent panic attacks produce symptoms such as:

  • A fast and pounding heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Shortness of breath
  • A feeling of choking
  • Abdominal distress
  • Dizziness
  • A sense of impending doom

Because panic attacks happen suddenly, with no warning, panic disorder sufferers can become so anxious over the next episode they restrict their normal activities.

Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a type of anxiety associated with avoidance of social situations that spark fears of being judged or embarrassed. People with this disorder typically feel nervous and self-conscious in front of other people and are anxious about being rejected or offending others. They may become shaky, sweaty, and nauseous if they spend time in a social setting, the NIMH points out.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder includes persistent, obsessive, and anxious feelings and thoughts, usually accompanied by routines or rituals (compulsions). For instance, people with this type of anxiety may compulsively wash their hands countless times a day because they worry about germs, or they may repeatedly go over their work to check and recheck for errors.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is one of the most serious types of anxiety disorders. It may develop after a severe physical or emotional trauma, such as:

  • Serving in a war zone
  • Being caught in a natural disaster
  • Experiencing a serious accident
  • Being the victim of a violent crime

Symptoms include flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, and frightening thoughts, often producing severe anxiety that can disrupt a person’s routine and daily life for months or even years later.

Help for anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety that lingers, worsens, or interferes with your work, social, or personal life, it’s time to get help. Talk to your family doctor and consider seeking therapy with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other therapist who treats anxiety.

There are effective treatments for all types of anxiety. Researchers have found behavioral treatments alone, or used along with medication, are highly effective in treating most people suffering from an anxiety disorder.

The majority of people who have anxiety can reduce or even eliminate symptoms after psychotherapy for their type of anxiety — and many notice improvements with just a few therapy sessions.


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July 20, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN