Several Types of Anxiety Disorders Explained

Anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorders

Psychologist Dr. Grace Graham has maintained a private clinical practice since 1993. Dr. Grace Graham focuses largely on the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders, and on educating clients about the nature of such disorders.

Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness in the United States today. Approximately 18 percent of adults and 8 percent of minors nationwide experience some form of anxiety that interferes with their lives. Each type of anxiety disorder has the common symptom of excessive and frequent periods of fear, though the cause of this fearfulness differs between disorder types.

Panic disorder, for example, causes a person to feel intensely and suddenly terrified. These attacks of fear often occur without warning, and they typically feature severe physical symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain. Because these symptoms mirror those of other illnesses, individuals who experience panic attacks may believe they are having a heart attack or other medical emergency.

Specific phobias also cause sudden fear, though these fears are focused on a particular stimulus. Individuals with this disorder will work hard to avoid events or situations that trigger attacks, even if doing so has a significant impact on everyday functioning.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), by contrast, prompts pervasive daily worry rather than brief periods of terror. Individuals with GAD will dwell on these worries for long periods of time and, as a result, they may struggle to finish daily tasks. Like other forms of anxiety, GAD is highly treatable with appropriate psychotherapeutic care.