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Types of anxiety disorders

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, but some of the major ones include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder, which is constant worrying and fear about many different things that exceeds the actual level of the threat to your safety.
  • Panic disorder, which is sudden and intense feelings of fear resulting in a panic attack (ie racing heart, breathing fast, sweating, thinking you are going to die).
  • Phobia, which is an intense fear of a situation or thing which may cause a panic attack and/or trying to avoid that situation or thing. There are many different kinds of phobias (eg, fear of heights, fear of spiders, fear of flying).
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which involves repeating thoughts and behaviours over and over again to reduce feelings of anxiety. Examples include counting things and excessive handwashing.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can occur after experiencing a frightening event in which it felt like your life was threatened, whether or not you were hurt. The event may be either watching or experiencing an accident, abuse, physical harm, or a disaster.

“I can’t fly. I will not walk through those plane doors. The feelings of panic are so intense when I even think of taking a holiday somewhere far away, I will not do it. What if I have a panic attack on the plane? I might die and no one will be able to help me and I won’t be able to get out.”

Michelle, aged 38.

“It has got to the stage that I can’t even drive to the shops. I am so frightened that something bad will happen. For every bump I think I have hit something. I turn the car around and go back and check and then start off again. I might get five metres down the road and think I hear something and then I have to stop and check again. Once I have checked, I calm down and tell myself it is okay. I start driving and the panic just rises. Imagine if I hit someone, or a little animal. I would rather not drive.”

Robyn, aged 54.


If you would like more information about the different kinds of anxiety disorders, please go to:

Australian Psychological Society

Beyondblue

Headspace

    Last updated: 30 March 2020 | Last reviewed: 29 February 2020

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