A Guide to Common Anxiety Disorders

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Every one of us has experienced anxiety in some form in our lives. It’s that gut-wrenching feeling before a big presentation at work. The way your heart sinks into your stomach before an exam. That jitteriness you get before walking into an interview. Maybe you experience physical symptoms like increased heart rate or sweating. Maybe you shut down and become irritable around others. But these symptoms don’t impair your ability to live a normal life. Now imagine being one part of the 18.1% of people in the U.S. living with anxiety disorders. They experience a variety of the symptoms listed above and more, as a common occurrence, as a part of their every-day lives.

A lot of the stigma surrounding mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, comes from the general population not understanding these illnesses as debilitating disorders that negatively impact and constantly infiltrate aspects of life. Today, we’ll discuss the most common anxiety disorders that affect millions of Americans daily.

Risk Factors

Before we delve into each anxiety disorder, we should talk about the risk factors associated with developing anxiety disorders. Some specific factors for anxiety disorders include:

-Being female
-Exposure to stressful or negative life events in childhood or adulthood
-Parental history of mental disorders
-Anxiety disorders in biological relatives
-Shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
-Having few economic resources

Common Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder is a persistent anxiety, worry, and tension most days for at least six months with the inability to control the anxiety. These worries and fears can be attributed to a number of things, anything from health or money, to every-day routine circumstances like appointments or driving. The anxiety can subsequently impair areas of life like social interactions, relationships with others, school, and work. Some symptoms include:

-Feeling restless
-Difficulty concentrating
-Muscle tension or aches
-Sweating/hot flashes
-Sleep issues

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is based in fearful ideas and ritualistic behaviors. It involves obsessions: repetitive intrusive thoughts/impulses, combined with compulsions: repetitive actions used to try to control anxiety caused by the obsessions. These thoughts and behaviors can become all-consuming and debilitating, impairing someone’s ability to do every-day activities. Some examples of OCD behaviors are: repeatedly washing hands to avoid germs, constantly checking to see if doors are locked, or doing certain behaviors a certain number of times to relieve feelings of anxiety (like showering in multiples of four).

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is a phobia-related disorder that creates overwhelming anxiety and self-consciousness during social situations. This intense fear of being embarrassed in everyday situations causes some people to avoid certain situations altogether. Some examples of social anxiety behaviors include fear of speaking in front of others or fear of eating in front of others.

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder involves recurrent episodes of panic attacks. These attacks are made up of intense fear and panic accompanied by physical symptoms. Panic attacks can have a specific source or be completely untriggered and can happen at any time. Some symptoms of panic attacks include:

-Heart palpitations, increased heart rate
-Shortness of breath
-Feelings of impending doom or fear of losing control
-Tingling in hands and feet

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD develops after a person experiences a traumatic event where their physical health was in danger or harmed, such as a car accident, war, or sexual assault. PTSD involves symptoms such as feelings of heightened worry, sadness, or anger and flashbacks that can trigger anxiety and panic. As a result, these feelings can manifest themselves in symptoms like trouble sleeping and panic attacks.

Even though anxiety can seem like a looming, debilitating disorder that filters through your life, there are numerous ways to manage it with the advancement of traditional and alternative medicine.

Struggling with an anxiety disorder? Find a counselor or someone to help anxiety near me.


  1. https://www.bbrfoundation.org/research/anxiety/frequently-asked-questions-about-anxiety
  2. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml#part_145335

Kristen Luft is a digital marketer working on health-centered blog posts for Wellistic. When she's not writing, you can find her reading, snuggling her greyhound or chihuahua, or following the latest trends on Instagram.

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