5 common types of anxiety disorders and their symptoms

A man suffering from insomnia.

Feeling anxious from time to time is common, especially when a person is dealing with sudden stressors and issues. However, when anxiety becomes persistent, unwarranted, or excessive, it can affect how someone enjoys their life, decreasing their ability to work, and making it a challenge for them to maintain relationships.

According to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), “Anxiety is an unwarranted or inappropriate fear or response to a vague or ill-defined threat.” Yahoo Life SEA has compiled a list of five different types of anxiety and their symptoms that you can look out for, along with ways to seek help.

1. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

Persons suffering from GAD can go through their day unnecessarily worrying excessively. According to the Singapore Association of Mental Health (SAMH), these people “anticipate disaster and obsess about problems with their health, wealth, family and work.”

Physical symptoms for GAD include insomnia, restlessness, fatigue and difficulties in concentrating. In addition, these people are easily startled and have difficulty relaxing. They are also usually highly irritable.

2. Social anxiety disorder

Those who suffer from social anxiety disorder can be overly anxious and self-conscious in everyday social situations. They worry that they are being judged and watched by others, and can be overly worried about a social event for days or weeks before. This anxiety can interfere with their daily lives, affecting the quality of their work.

Persons with social phobia may find it challenging to make and keep friends. Physical symptoms can include profuse sweating, nausea, fast heart rate, and blushing.

Obsessive compulsive disorder concept. Woman obsessively washing her hands.

3. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

According to the Institute of Mental Health, post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) is a “major psychological disorder that affects many people who survive major traumatic experiences.” Those who have PTSD will experience a “distinct pattern of symptoms that develop in the aftermath of an acute and traumatic event”, and these symptoms can last for years.

Symptoms of PTSD include recurring intrusive thoughts, intense psychological distress, especially when exposed to cues that resemble the traumatic event, and avoidance of things associated with the event.

4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

The common misconception about OCD is that a person wants things to be tidied or cleaned. However, OCD is more than that. According to Singhealth, persons suffering from OCD have “persistent and upsetting thoughts (obsessions) that lead to anxiety,” and “they use repetitive behaviours or mental acts (compulsions) to alleviate the anxiety.”

Symptoms of OCD include an irrational fear of hurting someone, a desire to hoard, a need for symmetry and exactness, and fears of contamination from dirt or germs.

5. Panic disorder

Panic disorder is characterised by pangs of fear that happen out of a sudden. It can happen any time, regardless of what you are doing, and gives a sense of unreality or fear of impending doom.

Persons who have panic disorder cannot predict their next panic attack and tend to worry excessively about when the next attack will occur. Panic disorder attacks are usually accompanied by breathlessness, a pounding heart, and fears of losing control.

Treatment for anxiety disorders includes medication, psychotherapy, stress management techniques and more. You can check out the IMH’s website and SAMH’s website to see what are the solutions available according to your needs.