Doctors and medical professionals can, after a little probing, categorize the types of anxiety disorders that any one person suffers, into five different groups. Within these categories, there are other conditions or disorders that you may hear of. These conditions fit the “guidelines” of what each group entails and are placed accordingly. By having five major categories or groups doctors have been able to prescribe the correct treatments more easily.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder - GAD
Generalized anxiety disorder sometimes referred to as general anxiety, is the most common type of anxiety disorder which affects around 3% of the population and is more than the anxiety that we feel in everyday life. The sufferer will find they exaggerate the tension they have over something affecting their life, and will find that the anxiety persists for long periods of time.
The person suffering with GAD will normally have trouble controlling their feelings, they may have trouble concentrating, have trouble sleeping, tension build up in the muscles and can be edgy and irritable to the point of being unreasonable. Sufferers cannot always pinpoint the reason for their anxiety although most cases revolve around work life, financial worries or a relationship issue.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as social phobia disorder, are phobias that a person feels when in social situations. Social phobia disorder is caused by a person being over conscious of others scrutinizing them in their daily tasks that they carry out. The sufferer becomes fearful of being watched and has feelings of embarrassment over simple actions as they feel they are being judged.
Over time this anxiety can have a detrimental effect in the way a sufferer lives on a day-to-day basis and they become reclusive and try to stay away from social settings. The sufferer will usually see they have a problem but find it difficult in try to overcome it due to not wishing to be in a position where they may have to enter in to counseling.
Sometimes this disorder can be mistaken for a panic disorder because those who suffer with phobias can sometimes suffer panic attacks as a symptom.
Panic disorder, also known as a panic attack is not a prolonged feeling of anxiety like generalized panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Panic disorder comes in the form of intense period of anxiety which normally starts without warning and causes feelings of breathlessness, trembling, heart palpitations, excessive sweating and in some cases a feeling of sickness.
The panic attack will make the sufferer feel the flight or fight response that our body puts us through when large amounts of adrenaline are pumped around the body under moments of intense stress. While experiencing a panic attack for the first time the sufferer may feel like they are having a heart attack or another type of dangerous medical condition. The length of time a person suffers a panic attack can vary quite a lot, but generally they only last for short periods of time.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - OCD
Obsessive compulsive disorder starts with a thought, perhaps an upsetting thought or merely a reminder. In order to control the thought process, a person will use rituals, or compulsions, to satisfy the uncertainty in their mind. However, the rituals and the obsessive thoughts will eventually start to control them.
Common fixations include the fear of germs which leads to obsessive hand washing, or the fear of invasion which leads to locking and re-locking their doors.
Another type of ritual that those with obsessive compulsive disorder participate in is obsessive counting. They may begin to feel uncomfortable if items aren’t grouped in a very specific manner, or they may obsess over counting the number of steps that they take when performing a specific activity.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Very traumatic events in a person's life, particularly ones involving emotional or physical violence, can damage a person and cause a recurring problem with anxiety for years to come. Victims of sexual violence such as rape or child molestation, or survivors of war or assault, will very likely develop post-traumatic stress disorder and will be forced to relive the worst moments of their life at inconvenient times, and sometimes for no apparent reason at all.
Post traumatic stress is not limited to suffering through a violent incident only, however. Witnessing an act of violence has been known to cause the disorder, as well as car accidents or train wrecks, bombings, natural disasters, robbery or losing a family member or friend in death. PTSD is related to the threat of violence, or the loss of something precious through violent means.
Many PTSD sufferers will actually relive the trauma at some point, whether in their daydreaming thoughts or in nightmares. These episodes are known as flashbacks and are often triggered by something small but related to the trauma.