By Andrea Drever

Content and Editorial Director

It’s perfectly normal to feel anxious on occasion. however, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. These overwhelming feelings can interfere with every aspect of their lives. Here are the some of the most common types of anxiety disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) experience chronic anxiety, which is exaggerated worry and tension, even when there is little or nothing to provoke it. Excessive concerns can revolve around a number of things, including personal health, work, social interactions, and routine life circumstances.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

OCD is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and/or repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Repetitive behaviors such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these so-called "rituals," however, provides only temporary relief, while not performing them markedly increases anxiety.

Panic Disorder

Individuals with panic disorder have recurrent unexpected panic attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that come on quickly and reach their peak within minutes. Attacks can occur unexpectedly or can be brought on by a trigger, such as a feared object or situation. Physical symptoms can include chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, or abdominal distress.

Phobia-Related Disorder

A phobia is an intense fear of, or aversion to, specific objects or situations. Although it can be realistic to be anxious in some circumstances, the fear people with phobias feel is out of proportion to the actual danger caused by the situation or object. Some phobias include the fear of flying, heights, specific animals (such as spiders, dogs, or snakes) receiving injections, and blood.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, and military combat. Symptoms can include having flashbacks of the traumatic event, feeling intensely “on edge,” and experiencing feelings of sadness and social isolation.

Social Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is characterized by overwhelming anxiety and excessive self-consciousness in everyday social situations. Social phobia can be limited to only one type of situation, such as a fear of public speaking or of eating in front of others. Or, in its most severe form, can be so broad that one experiences symptoms almost any time they are around other people.

If you suspect you suffer from an anxiety disorder, seek help, because there are many ways to find relief. These disorders are generally treated with stress management techniques, therapy, medication, or a combination of all three. There are a variety of options for treating anxiety and you should work with your doctor to choose the treatment that’s best for you.

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