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Types of Anxiety

Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Excessive worry over a 6+ month period meets the DSM IV criteria for Generalized Anxiety Disorder or "GAD." It's about being uncontrollably worried and anxious over a variety of things such as lack of money, children's behavior, or job performance.

Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder)


Panic Disorders are characterized by intense fear of losing control or dying. It makes even mundane things seem worrying to terrifying. It can interfere with driving, taking elevators, going to the movies, or even buying groceries. It has several physiological symptoms such as: increased heart rate, sweaty palms, lightheadedness, increase or decrease in body temperature, and shortness of breath. Panic attacks afflict people suffering from several other anxiety disorders as well, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, agoraphobia, and separation anxiety.

Even outside of the throes of a panic attack, the worry that one may soon strike can be debilitating. This is called anticipatory anxiety, and if left unchecked, it can cripple your life.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a.k.a. PTSD or Shellshock, occurs after experiencing a traumatic event. It may have been life-threatening, or it may have been witnessing the death or maiming of others. In PTSD, one reexperiences the traumatic event through nightmares, flashbacks, panic attacks, or unexplainable fear. PTSD is accompanied by increased sensitivity to sounds and light, and by irritability that can lead to social withdrawl.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder involves repetitive thoughts leading to compulsive behavior. For example when an individual feels that his hands are not clean, he'll wash them over and over because the intrusive thoughts about lack of cleanliness lead to high levels of anxiety that can be temporarily alleviated by washing of the hands.

Social Anxiety


High levels of anxiety are experienced at personal and professional get togethers. There is a fear of rejection, being embarressed, and of being judged by others.



Traditionally it is the fear of the market place. High levels of anxiety is experienced and decreases the person's functioning. Social withdrawl provides a temporary relief of the intense anxiety. If untreated, the person's world becomes increasingly more limited as s/he withdraws from more activities continuously.

Specific Phobias


Specific phobias, a.k.a. simple phobias, feature intense fear of an object or situation accompanied by anticipatory anxiety. This anxiety exists over fear of eventual re-exposure to the source of the fear. Examples phobias:

  • aviophobia: fear of flying
  • acrophobia: fear of heights
  • agoraphobia: fear of open spaces, crowds, or situations from which it's difficult to escape
  • pickles

Separation Anxiety


An intense fear of separation from a primary care taker. Fear that the separation is permanent. Children may get unusually anxious when a parent goes to work or when they have to go to school.

Test Anxiety


High levels of anxiety before and during tests. Ability to learn and retain information is impaired. Memory loss while taking the test and a general sense of "freezing up."