Anxiety is a straightforward condition to diagnose but it is often difficult to treat and there are many types of anxiety. This is because anxiety is a symptom of a number of different conditions.
This type of mental health issue is among the most common in the United States – affecting nearly 30% of adults at some point.
People who suffer from attacks of anxiety experience feelings beyond simple nervousness – there are both psychological and physical symptoms. On a daily basis, this can mean compulsive worrying, irrational fears, and social difficulties.
This can severely affect a person’s ability to manage in everyday life.
Health professionals will diagnose an anxiety disorder based on whether they feel the sufferer's fear is out of proportion to the actual risk, and if that sensation significantly hinders that person's ability to function.
To understand the best way to manage these conditions, psychologists use at least three categories of anxiety-related complaints.
This is the most commonly diagnosed type of anxiety. It causes regular and repeated periods of physical tension and nervousness. This could be caused by specific events and situations – or without a specific trigger.
Sufferers will not be able to rid themselves of these feelings.
It is possible to suffer from more than one anxiety disorder at a time and GAD may be diagnosed alongside other conditions, such as panic disorder or other mental health problems – often obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Social situations are a common anxiety-inducing environment. Social phobias, as an anxiety disorder, go beyond normal shyness and causes irrational fears about needing to socialize or speak or act in public. Sufferers may struggle when dealing with new people, members of the public, strangers, persons in authority or even persons they already know.
The issue for sufferers is that they view public situations as potentially embarrassing, distressing or painful. The worry they might be judged by those around them.
The third form of anxiety disorders is panic disorder. This is when a person feels extreme feelings of doom and foreboding without being in a threatening situation. This can cause mental and physical symptoms so strong that people become seriously worried about their health and seek medical treatment.
Panic attacks are the key characteristic of panic disorders. These are physical manifestations of anxiety. They bring intense physical and mental sensations and sufferers may be concerned by either having panic attacks, or the fear of panic attacks themselves.
The associated conditions of post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorders may also be considered under the umbrella of anxiety conditions. Data from the American Psychiatric Association shows phobias are the most common form of anxiety disorder, with between 7 and 9% of adults being diagnosed in the US each year.
Around 7% of adults will suffer a social anxiety disorder, 2 to 3% have panic disorders, 2% may suffer agoraphobia and 2% have a generalized anxiety disorder. Their research shows women are more likely to hold these diagnoses.