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4 Common Anxiety Disorders and Their Symptoms

July 05, 2018

At different times in our lives, anxiety is normal, such as temporary worry before a test, or when making a big decision. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, involve worry or fear that does not go away and can at times intensify, according to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). These disorders often disrupt life, interfering with work, family and social activities.

Let's take a closer look at a few anxiety disorders and their symptoms:

1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder display excessive anxiety or worry for months and face several anxiety-related symptoms, according to the NIMH. Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or having one's mind go blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling the worry
  • Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless, unsatisfying sleep)
2. Social Anxiety Disorder

People with social anxiety disorder have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected or fearful of offending others, says the NIMH. Social anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling highly anxious in social situations
  • Feeling self-conscious
  • Worried about feeling humiliated, embarrassed, rejected, or fearful of offending others
  • Afraid of being judged
  • Worrying for days or weeks before an event
  • Staying away from places where there are other people
  • Having a hard time making and keeping friends
  • Blushing, sweating or trembling around others
  • Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when people are around
3. Panic Disorder

People with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks, which are sudden periods of intense fear that may include palpitations, an accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling, or shaking, according to the NIMH. Panic disorder symptoms include:

  • Sudden and repeated attacks of intense fear
  • Feelings of being out of control during a panic attack
  • Intense worries about when the next attack will happen
  • Fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
4. Phobias

Individuals with phobias, or strong irrational fear reactions, work hard to avoid common places, situations or objects, although they know there's no threat or danger. Specific phobias commonly focus on animals, insects, germs, heights, thunder, driving, public transportation, flying, dental or medical procedures, and elevators. The fear may not make any sense, but the person feels powerless to stop it, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

According to NIMH, there are options when treating and coping with anxiety disorders. They include psychotherapy, medication and support groups. Most importantly, know that you are never alone in living with or caring for someone with a mental illness. If you're seeking professional behavioral health assistance, see our article on Finding Mental Health Care Services.