Have you ever felt anxious? Anxiety can appear at different times in life, originating from various factors or situations. However, when it is a central symptom within another more general disorder, we speak of an anxiety disorder.
Logically, as there are different types of anxiety, there are also different anxiety disorders.. In this article we will know how anxiety is expressed in each of them, and how prevalent they are in the general population.
Types of Anxiety (and disorders)
Anxiety is a psychophysiological state, and as such it integrates different spheres of the person, and includes behavioral, physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms. We feel anxiety when we feel overwhelmed, either by work, family, daily problems, etc.We feel anxiety when we feel overwhelmed, whether by work, family, daily problems, etc.
On a bodily level, this state of anxiety translates into: nervousness, irritability, tension, accelerated breathing (or feeling short of breath), excessive sweating, etc.
However, we cannot speak only of one type of anxiety, but there are different types of anxiety. That is why there are also different types of anxiety disorders, depending on the characteristics of the anxiety and the symptoms it causes.
Let’s get to know the 5 most frequent anxiety disorders below.
1. Generalized Anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
The first of the types of anxiety we are going to talk about is the anxiety present in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). In this case, it is a “diffuse” anxiety and, as the name suggests, generalized.
This means that the stimuli that cause anxiety in GAD are not well defined, but it is often the day-to-day life itself that causes anxiety (everyday situations, accumulated stress, etc.). Thus, a person suffering from GAD will have difficulties to concentrate, to enjoy things and to be calm in their daily life, as they will feel like an internal engine that never shuts off, at a bodily and mental level.
In this way, when you suffer from GAD, you have a lot of worries in your head, even though they are worries about things thatAlthough they are worries about things that are either unimportant or have no solution. The anxiety of GAD can interfere significantly with the patient’s life.
The anxiety of agoraphobia is rather a feeling of intense fear, which is caused by being in public places or situations where it is difficult or embarrassing to escape (or difficult to obtain).It is caused by being in public places or situations where it is difficult or embarrassing to escape (or difficult to get help in case of a panic attack). That is to say, the person with agoraphobia, in addition to panicking about having a panic attack (and often having already had one), is afraid of having one and of not being able to get help or escape.
This fear usually extends to public places (not open, as it is usually thought). Thus, the person with agoraphobia avoids these places, resists them with strong anxiety or only attends them in company (or with an amulet on him/her).
As we can see, the types of anxiety can take many forms: fear, tension, hyperexcitement… In this case, we are talking about a type of fear (which can also entail anxious symptoms).
Panic disorder involves another of the types of anxiety we are looking at. In this case it is a question of an elevated anxietythat is unleashed at a peak as a result of suffering a panic attack. In order to be able to diagnose a panic disorder, it is necessary that at least two panic attacks have appeared, and that these have been unforeseen (unexpected).
In addition to the above, the patient must meet at least one of these two criteria (according to the DSM-5 [Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders]): present uneasiness or worry about further panic attacks or their consequences, or present a significant (maladaptive) change in behavior related to the attacks (e.g. avoidance of physical exercise).
Panic disorder may or may not be accompanied by agoraphobia.. When it comes to panic disorder with agoraphobia, we are talking about the most prevalent anxiety disorder in the clinical population.
4. Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
The next of the types of anxiety that we find is the social anxiety disorder (SAD). In this case, as its name suggests, it is an anxiety associated with social stimuli (i.e. people).
The person with SAD has a phobia (intense and irrational fear) of speaking in public, conversing with new people, introducing him/herself to others in a group, etc., etc.to introduce him/herself to others in a group, etc.
In other words, anything that involves social contact with other people. This is the classic social phobia (now called social anxiety disorder in the DSM-5). Accompanying SAD, physiological symptoms (anxiety symptoms) such as sweating, hyperventilation, shortness of breath, dizziness, etc., may appear when the individual is exposed to a certain social situation.
5. Specific phobia
Specific phobia is another anxiety disorder, where the main symptom is an intense, disproportionate and irrational fear.This can be anything you can imagine (animals, storms, clowns, objects, climatic events, situations, etc).
That is to say, you can have a specific phobia to anything. This fear, moreover, is accompanied by physiological symptoms, such as other types of anxiety we have seen: tachycardia, sweating, dizziness, etc. On the other hand, the person avoids the stimulus in question, or resists it with high anxiety.
Specific phobia is the most prevalent anxiety disorder in the general population.
Prevalence of anxiety disorders
As we have seen, there are different types of anxiety, and this leads to different anxiety disorders.. Each of them, however, has a different prevalence among the population. Let’s see the prevalence data for each of them, according to the ESEMeD-Spain (2006):
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): has an annual prevalence (A.P.) of 0.5% and a vital prevalence (V.P.) of 1.89%.
- Agoraphobia: 0.3% annual prevalence and 0.62% lifetime prevalence.
- Panic disorder: 0.6% annual prevalence and 1.7% lifetime prevalence.
- Social anxiety disorder (SAD): 0.6% annual prevalence and 1.17% lifetime prevalence.
- Specific phobia: 3.6% annual prevalence and 4.52% lifetime prevalence.
Thus, we see how the most frequent anxiety disorder of all anxiety disorders is specific phobia, within the general population.
- You may be interested in: “10 relaxation techniques to combat anxiety”.